(January 10, 2013, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) The US on Thursday expressed serious concern over the impeachment proceedings against Sri Lanka's first woman Chief Justice, saying the issue raised serious questions about the process and government pressure on the judiciary.
"As we said before, we had serious concerns about the actions that were taken to impeach the Chief Justice and the timing of the impeachment and that it raised serious questions about the process and government pressure on the judiciary," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.
The parliamentary committee on December 08, 2012, ruled that Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was guilty of three of the 14 charges in the impeachment proceedings against her moved by the ruling UPFA coalition legislators.
The three charges were financial impropriety based on non-declaration of assets and conflict of interest in a case involving a failed investment company.
The chief justice denied all the charges against her. On December 06, she stormed out of the impeachment hearing in Parliament, saying she will not be given a fair trial.
She also claimed verbal abuse by the government members of the parliamentary committee.
Statement issued by the US State Department, Washington DC,
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Sri Lanka.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: A Sri Lankan maid was beheaded in Saudi Arabia this week for killing a baby in 2005. There are lots of human rights bodies which are opposing this. How do you see this beheading of a Sri Lankan maid in Saudi Arabia?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on that one way or the other, Lalit. I will check with our folks and see if we have any views to share.
QUESTION: And on the continued impeachment of the Sri Lankan chief justice, now there’s a confrontation between the Sri Lankan parliament and the court, supreme court. One of the courts have said it’s – the decision taken by Sri Lankan parliament is not valid. How do you see this ongoing confrontation between the various wings of the government?MS. NULAND: Well, I understand the parliament is just back from recess and we are, as we said before, we had serious concerns about the actions that were taken to impeach the chief justice and the timing of the impeachment, and that it raised serious questions about the process and government pressure on the judiciary. With regard to what’s been happening today with the parliament back in session, let me see if we have any further comment for you, Lalit.