CPA strongly condemns the assault on the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Mr. Manjula Tillakeratne on 7th October and demands an immediate end to intimidation and physical violence against the judiciary and all other dissenting voices. This attack is the latest episode in a series of intimidating and sometimes violent attacks on the judiciary and a direct threat to its independence in post-war Sri Lanka. Subsequent to the assault, the authorities stated that action will be taken against any perpetrators. This is a standard response following violent incidents. There is no genuine follow up in most cases and perpetrators are not held to account. As in the past, CPA calls for a full and speedy investigation and action to bring the perpetrators to justice. There has to be an end to the culture of impunity.
CPA has been disturbed by a spate of incidents in recent days targeting the judiciary and its officers. Mr. Tillakeratne himself has been publicly vilified, including by the President himself at a meeting with journalists on 27th September, after the JSC issued an unprecedented press statement alleging that the independence of the judiciary was under threat. More recently, Mr. Tillakeratne predicted violence when he alerted the media to threats to the security of members of the JSC and their families.
This incident must, therefore, not be viewed in isolation. The attacks on the judiciary are the culmination of a systematic effort to intimidate and silence all critics of the government. It further demonstrates that a fundamental premise on which our democracy, indeed any democracy, is supposed to be built – the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary – are under severe threat. CPA has consistently highlighted the systematic breakdown in the rule of law and of independent institutions, and among others, challenged the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It is of paramount importance that the authorities immediately arrest these dangerous trends and adhere to the commitments made by the government to preserve and protect the fundamental elements of a functioning democracy in our country.