Independence of judiciary must be ensured in Sri Lanka: US

Expressing concern over the move to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, the US has urged the Sri Lankan Government to avoid any action that would impede the efficacy and independence of country's judiciary.

"The US is concerned by actions taken to impeach Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to avoid any action that would impede the efficacy and independence of Sri Lanka's judiciary," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said yesterday.

The US officials have also noted with concern the recent threats to Sri Lankan judicial officials, including the assault last month on a judge who had publicly criticised government pressure on members of the judiciary, she said.

"The US, along with its partners in the international community, continues to urge Sri Lanka to address outstanding issues of the rule of law, democratic governance, accountability and reconciliation," Nuland said.

The US official, however, refrained from going into specifics of the concerns.
"We are concerned about interference with the judiciary. Beyond that, I think it's probably not productive to go, but what we are saying publicly in that statement is not any different than what we've been saying to the Sri Lankan Government for some time," she said.

The US has always raised concerns every time the judiciary was "not allowed to be conducted impartially" in any country, and it will do the same in Sri Lanka also, Nuland asserted.

She, however, said the broader relations with Sri Lanka remained on track.
On November 1, the Sri Lankan government had set in motion the process to impeach the woman Chief Justice charging her with "improper conduct" and "over-stepping" limits in an escalating conflict between the Judiciary and the Executive.

Bandaranayake, 54, was appointed the country's first woman chief justice last year and has another 11 years in office unless removed by the impeachment motion.

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