Posted on September 20, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
” Some things can be faked but it is dangerous to make them appear as fakes. The old fox Jayewardene who took away most of the substance of democracy from Sri Lankans made sure that all the appearances were kept intact.”
“We in Colombo also now have to become like people living in the North and East in our outlook. We no longer know what is what, which is which, whether we are coming or going”, a lawyer friend of mine living in Colombo, a told me today. He was trying to reflect the mood of the people after the passing of the 18th Amendment. The aftermath of the violent conflict against the LTTE, which promised peace, has not brought peace of mind to the people living in Colombo. There is new kind of unease, the loss of the very ground on which people stood and a fear of things to come.
If the government expected an easy time due to not having the fear of facing elections and contesters for power, it seems that they miscalculated rather badly, for elections alone are not the only way parties come to power and stay there. They are also a way of life. It is like having the monsoon or the full moon. If these things do not appear at regular intervals people fear that something is going wrong. (more…)
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Posted on July 30, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
A mother burned the mouths of two children who were crying for food. The two children were girls, one and half and five years old. The mother has been arrested and is presently in remand custody. The incident took place on the 28th July at Awissawela.
A few months ago a mother threw one of her children into Kalu Ganga as she was no position to feed her children. At the same time another mother handed over her children to a court to get them into intuitional care, as she too was in no position to feed them.
This tragedy should be an eye opener for everyone. It is easy to blame this woman and even to call her a psychopath. That kind of name calling is the easy way that we often use to trick ourselves.
A mother being unable to deal with the demands for food of her very young children is one of the most difficult human situations. Motherhood is associated with idea of the giving of food and love. A mother feeds her children with her own milk. (more…)
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Posted on July 1, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
This year I was able to complete my work on the relationship between the crisis in institutions for administration of justice and its consequences for the realisation of human rights in Asia. This work consists of three publications. The first was The phantom limb, which was published in 2009. It was followed by Recovering the authority of public institutions, which was also published in 2009. This year the work was completed with another publication, Sri Lanka: Impunity, criminal justice and human rights. Though all three books are studies of Sri Lanka, they are intended as case studies of a problem common to almost all parts of Asia, except for some places like Hong Kong and South Korea with comprehensive rule of law systems.
Stating the problem
The phantom limb: Failing judicial systems, torture and human rights work in Sri Lanka (AHRC, Hong Kong, 2009, 80 pp)
The first publication is perhaps the most important one in its articulating of the basic understanding of the problem. A medical doctor who attended a presentation I made on the absence of institutions for administrations of justice and its impact on human rights suggested the term “phantom limb”. In response to my speech, he said that the situation I described was known as the phantom limb syndrome. An amputee who has lost a limb continues to imagine that he has that limb and even feels pain in the limb. The problem of institutions for administration of justice is similar. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, civil society, crime, extrajudicial killings, fundermental rights, human rights, Judiciary, justice, police, politics, rule of law, Sri Lanka | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 3, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
Ugly Things and Beautiful People—Part 1
He was an old man, surely over the age of 70. He wore a sarong and an old shirt. By looking at him one could tell that he was obviously a very strong person. He was tall and dark in complexion. One day he went to talk to two lawyers; both were much younger than he and physically lesser in stature and he had no particular reason to trust either of them. However, he had come in search of help and knew that he needed to talk to them. He had already tried with a few others and failed but could not afford to give up.
He repeated his story to two lawyers. It was about his 17-year-old grandson who had been arrested by the police for no apparent reason. Having learned of the arrest he went to the police station and found the boy lying unconscious on the floor of a holding cell. Thinking that the boy was dead he cried out in anguish; a cry that came from the depths of his soul. He then shouted out at the top of his voice, “You have killed my grandson”. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, attorney general, civil society, corruption, extrajudicial killings, human rights, illegal arrest, Judiciary, justice, police, Poverty, Sri Lanka, Supreme Court, torture, violations | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 6, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
MCM Iqbal, Secretary to several commissions of inquiry in Involuntary Disappearances recalls some of narratives of cases told by witness before the commissions. This is from a taped interview with Basil Fernando
Since I was secretary at two of the separate evidence commissions that were conducting inquiries into disappearances during the so-called period of terror, from the late 1980s to the middle of the 1990s I was able to listen to the evidence given by many of the complainants personally, I was present when the inquiries were being conducted.
And some of the cases remain in my mind, because they were so gory, such brutal cases that I can recollect most of the information pertaining to them. I will just narrate a few of them to give a sample of the kind of brutality that existed during that period.
There was a mother, she was about 60 or a little more than that, who came before the commission. She said that since her son had disappeared, she had been looking for him everywhere until she heard from somebody that there were hundreds of heads of people who had been killed and planted on posts around the valley, on Kappetipola Road in the hill country of Sri Lanka. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, child rights, civil society, corruption, disappearances, human rights, police, rule of law, Sri Lanka, torture, violations, witness protection | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 23, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
A Book Review
A Comment By Tapan Bose
The book “Sri Lanka: Impunity, Criminal Justice and Human Rights” authored by Basil Fernando and published by the Asian human Rights Commission is about Sri Lanka’s descent into utter lawlessness. The book is not a chronicle of events. The book provides us an insight into “abysmal lawlessness and the zero status of the citizens”, the militarisation of the state, the bypassing of the constitution and the levels of impunity that the executive enjoys.The author inquires into how such a situation could arise in Sri Lanka where the institution of parliamentary democracy was introduced nearly eight decades ago.
Basil Fernando tells us that the very foundation of Universal Human Rights, which is based on the concept of “equality for all” and “equal treatment before the law” remains an alien notion to the ruling elite of these countries. These countries might have adopted constitutions that granted basic fundamental rights to all citizens and ratified various international human rights covenants. Yet among the ruling elite of the post colonial countries of South Asia, the ruling elite continued to remain rooted into the region’s feudal and caste based systems of governance and justice. The sad reality is that even after sixty years of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and enormous investment by the UN and other international agencies in the propagation, education and training in Human rights, the vary basic of these rights are still not available to the people of the countries of South Asia. (more…)
Filed under: civil society, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, fundermental rights, Judiciary, justice, media, rule of law, Supreme Court, torture | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 17, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
“Ambedkar’s Buddhism was a Buddhism of a minority trying to liberate the entire nation. Ambedkar opposed separatism but always kept in mind the unique nature of the oppression of the Dalits.”
Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s memory was celebrated by large numbers of admirers and followers in India and outside once again this week. Perhaps no other modern contemporary leader of India is as much remembered by such large numbers of (mostly much oppressed) people throughout India as Ambedkar is. One-time untouchables, who now called themselves Dalits, a name that was given to them by B.R. Ambedkar, remember him as an inspiration in their own struggles to regain their dignity. Perhaps no people have been put into such a degraded position in society anywhere as the untouchables of India. The millions of people who belong to these groups have fought a battle to re-emerge as people with dignity, and to that revival Ambedkar has contributed greatly.
Ambedkar’s political thought is still very relevant to not only to the politics of India but also to politics in South Asia in general. South Asian countries are today facing deep crises, unable to develop political and social institutions to guarantee stability to their societies primarily because of centuries of oppressive and social political systems that were their heritage due to the caste system. The caste system essentially was a system of domination by a small group, called Brahmins, who developed most sophisticated forms of cunning into the social control systems of their time in a way that even for centuries they could maintain their dominance. The damage that was done in the process of repression that accompanied the creation and the maintenance of the caste system have become the obstacles to the development of the intelligence the creativity and the capacity of all the people to deal with contemporary problems. Their past holds them in their bondage. (more…)
Filed under: Buddhism, civil society, politics | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 9, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
“The common criteria for justice and the capacities to mete out those criteria which are available to all the citizens is the only common bond that would last and would ensure that differences are ironed out by ideologies of tolerance and linkages are built among the groups and sectors of society.”
What makes a nation a nation is above all the justice that prevails within that nation. It is justice that creates the bond between the people. Justice connects one with the other. Justice among the people is the one thing that is common to all in a nation if it exists. Justice binds one person or group or a particular nationality with different races and religions. Justice provides the actual bondage between genders. Justice creates the bondage irrespective of culture and language. Justice is the common language of a nation that wants to stay together and the absence of justice is the characteristic of any nation that courts disunity, instability, violence between groups and individuals. Without the bond of justice no other kind of reconciliation or inner levels of understanding and friendship can be built.
However, this area of the presence and absence of justice has ceased to be discussed when dealing with problems of violence, conflicts and the problems of dealing with even issues of terrorism and anti terrorism. Once the factor of justice is removed from the discourse of any of these subjects, voluminous discourses can be created but no real solutions can be found to any of the problems that are being discussed. In an attempt to undo violence more violence is created which in turn creates counter-violence and the cycle goes on. In the attempt to impose the power of one group over another a similar kind of cycle takes place where one power is resisted by another power which at the end develops into conflict. Conflicts in turn develop into direct or indirect violence and violence enjoys the cycle mentioned above. (more…)
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Posted on April 1, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
No citizen has a special privilege where committing crimes is concerned. Whether the crime is that of murder or rape, income tax fraud or the non-disclosure of information relating to income, it makes no difference. All citizens are bound by the same laws and therefore, those who violate such laws, irrespective of their standing in society; they should be subjected to the same consequences.
The unfortunate situation in Sri Lanka is that this elementary principle does not operate in the country. On the one hand some are allowed to commit crimes and get away with it while on the other certain persons are selected for prosecution and punishment. In this situation there is an underlying arbitrariness and unfairness. It is this unfairness in the operation relating to the basic law with regard to the crimes themselves that justifies the classification of Sri Lanka being among the most lawless countries in the world. This is not due to the lack of laws but rather the lack of the principles of fairness in the application of the laws.
“Having similar crimes and similar methods of dealing with complaints regarding criminal activities is the very essence of a society based on the rule of law and justice. Citizens must be able to complain when crimes are committed should expect that similar investigations and other legal measures will be taken to deal with these crimes.” (more…)
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Posted on March 24, 2010 by srilankalawlessness
Among the stories that were reported from Sri Lanka in recent days the case of three-year-old Amila, is perhaps one of the most significant. Except for immediate press coverage of the story in a more sensational manner there were hardly any other reflections.
Amila’s mother had made several attempts to draw the attention of the local government and some charitable organisations to the plight of her five children, particularly the younger ones; at the very least to have them admitted to an orphanage because the family was not longer able to look after them. All her attempts failed and there were no good Samaritans who took notice of the plight of this mother of five. Finally in desperation she threw her youngest child into the Kalu Ganga perhaps expecting to the see the end of the boy’s agony.
This is not a common story. An act of this sort has seldom been reported, if at all in recent times. However, the story does not raise a very great surprise. The stark poverty of the countryside is today no longer a secret. (more…)
Filed under: child rights, civil society, human rights, justice, politics, Poverty, rule of law, Sri Lanka | Leave a Comment »