U.N.: Sri Lanka judiciary threatened

Dec. 31, 2012 at 3:16 PM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Attacks against judges and lawyers threaten the independence of the Sri Lankan justice system, an independent expert for the United Nations said Monday.

"The recent steps taken by the executive and legislative towards impeaching the chief justice appear to be the culminating point of a series of attacks against the judiciary for asserting its independence," Gabriela Knaul, the U.N. special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said.

Knaul said reports she has received indicated attacks and threats against Sri Lankan judicial members and lawyers have "dramatically increased" in recent months, the United Nations said in a release.

Knaul said the country's constitution allows Parliament to exert considerable control over the judiciary, which is incompatible with both the principle of separation of power and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The U.N. expert urged Sri Lankan lawmakers to modify the country's constitution so it would be compliant with international human rights law and prevent the future political persecution of independent judges.

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