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I am sorry about the current attempt to impeach the Chief Justice, since it seems to me rather like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. What makes it worse is that those responsible for the impeachment motion seem to be going after the wrong nut.

Over the last year, in trying to expedite implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan, I noted many problems arising from the failure of the judiciary to establish norms with regard to the processes entrusted to them. I sent several letters on this subject, to the Chief Justice as well as the Judicial Services Commission, but initially received only dusty replies, ie claims that the responsibility was not theirs.

Recently though – and this may reflect the fact that the Judiciary realized it could not go on in an ivory tower with no regard for basic human problems – I got more positive answers, and most notably the assertion that advice had been given to the magistracy with regard to rulings. However my subsequent request, that that advice be made public, has been thus far ignored. I am sorry about this, because the public has a right to know the norms under which judgments and sentencing are imposed.

We had also, at meetings of the Task Force on the Plan which I convene, suggested meetings to ensure that magistrates were more careful about fulfilling their responsibilities, not only with regard to sentencing, but also for visiting prisons and remand homes. This happened rarely, though I should also note the commitment of a few members of the judiciary who did take such responsibilities seriously.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

November 2012
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