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Judiciary must step up to protect public officials: SLPP

To avoid an impasse between the Executive and Legislature. the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday recommended that the Judiciary play a larger role to protect public officials testifying before the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to look into the Easter Sunday attacks.

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday said he would not allow top public officials, including serving intelligence officers before the PSC. However, following the President’s statement, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya stated on Saturday that those called before PSC have to testify or face legal consequences.

Speaking to media at SLPP head office, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said contradictory stances taken by both the Executive and the Legislature had put public officials in a difficult situation.

“The public officials do not know whose order to follow, because one order contradicts the others, therefore they are in a risky situation, as either way there is a chance of them losing their jobs. Given the situation, the Judiciary has an indispensable role to resolve this situation,” he said.

Prof. Peiris argued that public officials had received incompatible orders from the Executive and the Legislature, and could only seek the help of the Supreme Court by filing Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions to protect themselves from unfair dismissal. He noted as the one of the three pillars of the State, the Judiciary must balance the contradictions that have sprung up between the Executive and the Legislature over PSC proceedings.

He argued that contradictory orders given by the President and the Speaker has pushed national security into a difficult situation. “When the Executive and the Legislature give incompatible orders with regards to national security, the officials cannot take even basic decisions, and this is a serious situation, which needs to be resolved soon.”

Prof. Peiris claimed the standoff between the President and the Speaker created doubts in the minds of intelligence officers and members of the security forces. “The message that goes out is they are not being supported by the Government to do their jobs,” he claimed.

He said the SLPP reiterated they were against the decision to open PSC proceedings to the media, insisting such a move could compromise national security. He argued PSC proceedings were only directed at discrediting President Sirisena, and not finding out details of lapses that led up to the Easter Sunday attacks.

“Members of the PSC only ask questions that are unfavourable to the President. They did not ask any question that raises concerns of the Prime Minister’s role and the Cabinet on attacks. The Prime Minister cannot run away from his responsibilities. He also had a role to play in creating this situation,” he said.

(FT)

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