Photo courtesy Euronews
From 6 – 21 March 2013, Groundviews ran an online poll to ascertain opinions on the lasting impact of the unprecedented impeachment of Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice.
The online poll was hosted on Typeform.com. 177 responses were generated.
The questionnaire can be downloaded as a PDF here.
The full poll results, for statistical analysis and verification, can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet here. Excerpts to the answers given to Question 1 and 7 are reproduced below, which some language edits. Unedited responses to these questions can be downloaded as plain text files (Question 1 and Question 7). Select quotes from the responses generated by Question 9 are also embedded in the infographic below. Unedited responses to this question are included in the Excel spreadsheet above.
Clicking on the heading of any chart will take you to infogr.am and allow you to share and embed the specific infographic across a range of leading social media sites and on any blog or website. If you are logged into Facebook, you can also choose to comment on and share the infographic with your friends.
Groundviews sincerely thanks those who took the time to respond to the online questionnaire.
Question 1: The protests have died down, and the issue already largely forgotten by mainstream media, polity and society. What do you think are the lasting effects, if any, of the Shirani Bandaranayake’s impeachment in early 2013 (500 characters)?
- Less confidence in the Rule of Law. If it could happen to the CJ how about the common man? A sense of oppression that no criticism of the Govt. is tolerated.
- Pro-Rajapaksa regime styled judiciary and governance.
- The ruling party now has confidence that they are above the law.
- …government has reinforced its power in the judiciary and it will receive only favorable judicial reviews hereafter. this is condition fulfilling for a future authoritarian government by a few aristocrats.
- It is a suicidal move, especially with regard to concerns of war crimes. After the impeachment no one is going to take any internal investigations seriously.
- Firstly, the side-stepping by the Presidency and the Parliament of constitutional norms and processes devalues all state institutions and will trickle down and expedite the further decay of state institutions. Secondly, the political weightage in favour of the ruling political group at the top judiciary level will severely weaken the justice orientation of the courts system and will further encourage the popular resort to non-judicial and extra-judicial actions between citizens…
- Judges Lawyers are corrupt. They are the root cause of the evil.
- Within the country none whatsoever. Internationally we will be looked upon differently.
- A rapid deterioration of human rights and democracy
- It reinforces the precedent of using the flawed procedure laid down in the parliamentary standing orders for impeachment. The first use of these standing orders was heavily criticised by the MPs who took part in the impeachment of Neville Samarakoon and it is a pity the executive chose to take advantage of the lack of action to rectify the deficiencies in the procedure to fulfil its needs.
- Breakdown of the independence of the judiciary, loss of confidence in the impartiality of the justice, loss of respect for Sri Lankan democracy, pave the way to a dictatorship
- A total degeneration of governance and the increase of ‘family rule’. A justice system that is impaired and bereft of independence. A breakdown of the justice system and its independence
- A very vindictive impeachment process sans any credibility and bulldozed due to the lack of proper leadership of the opposition parties in Parliament. Also note that the majority votes obtained for this vindictive impeachment is due to some elected opposition party members now in the payroll of the government holding Ministerial & Deputy Ministerial Cabinet & Non Cabinet Portfolios.
- At least some people who were previously supportive of the regime are now begining to seriously question the integrity of its leaders.
- To really understand the damning effect of the impeachment, one would need to understand the internationally recognized Rule of Law and the Principles of Natural Justice. How many voters are there in Sri Lanka? How many of them are aware of, or understand, these concepts? Sri Lankans have very short memories and the State is following the tactics of the Nazi Gobbels.
- Not to resort to hyperbole, but this means that the current regime can clamp down on anyone not toeing their line of action with absolute impunity. Whilst not affecting me personally, if it happens to one, it will eventually happen to every one of us.
- For the ordinary person struggling to make ends meet, very little effect. For the judicial system of the country, if the highest authority of the system could be ousted in this manner, what more to be said of the entire system?
Rarely a day passes without some incident is reported which at least indirectly follows from this action of the government. On the positive side, some within politics seem to have become a little more aware of the meaning of the largely alien concept of a ‘conflict of interest’.
- A precedent has been set where the legislature has exercised supremacy over the judiciary; something not consistent with the constitution. This lawless act of the legislature undermines the institution and opens up the floodgates for the legislature to use the state as vehicle for self aggrandisment even more so than in the past.
Growing nepotism in the government, a lack of transparency and accountability. No devolution of power, lack of civil liberties given to the Tamils, and the government becoming essentially a dictatorship.
- The impeachment process marks the complete indirect ( or rather direct in this case) establishment of a very prominent dictatorship by the current regime. This marks a very clear and distinct phase of dictatorship and obviously marks the strongest violation of the most important features of a democracy that separates it from an Anarchy. In that sense the main effect of this haphazard impeachment process would be the state of a rapidly deteriorating democracy.
- The 2013 BASL election was directly linked to the impeachment and I also believe the outcome is a clear expression of “anger” towards all those who contribute to the debacle of the impeachment.
- The very disturbing lasting effect of the impeachment is that once you achieve the powerful position of being Executive President under the present constitution there are no restraints on your absolute use of power. The illusory constraints in the present Constitution are seen to be quite ineffective if the Executive is determined to act in a particular manner. Our democracy is seen to be a sham or counterfeit and what we have is untrammelled use of power. There is no rule of law; only of men.
- A severe curtailment of democracy and irreparable damage to the judiciary
- Judiciary won’t be impartial any longer. Let’s just say RIP judiciary!
- It is difficult to say. The PSC most certainly was not ‘impartial’ or ‘transparent’ to the extent that is required in matters of such magnitude. Clearly, a bad precedent for future PSCs. However, it is unfortunate that the facts seem to incriminate the CJ on the charges made against her. The general word on the street was that she needed to ‘go’. This reasoning has worked to somewhat legitimise the PSC, with the effect that Parliament may feel justified in appointing such PSCs in the future.
Question 7: What do you perceive is the most important challenge for the judiciary after the impeachment of the CJ in early 2013 (500 characters)?
- Maintaining the independence of judiciary
- Taking independent decisions based on laws.
- Restore credibility
- Being trusted.
- Kicking Mohan Peiris out, ASAP.
- Remain neutral and let justice be served
- To retain its credibility given the appointment of Mohan Peiris as ‘successor’ to Shirani Banadaranayake
- The challenge is to retain the principles ( whatever is left now) under the new CJ who is alleged as corrupt and ensure that the people do not lose confidence in the system of law and justice
- Ensuring that the legislature and executive do not force through harmful constitutional amendments
- Silence of citizens
- To maintain professional standards 1) through legal education in Sri Lanka, 2) through continuous professional engagement with fellow judges through the bar association to uphold the independence of the judiciary, 3) to engage with the public to make them aware of the value of the rule of law for their own security, 4) wider engagement with the international legal community and UN to keep vigilance on the abuse of people’s mandate given to politicians.
- To find a statesman-leader who make the people to unite
- The apparent passivity towards the growing feeling that the Rajapakses can do anything and that they are justified in whatever they do
- It is to regain its independence (as the BASL has done in its recent election) by starting with a better showing of impartiality in the pending cases about the impeachment and the cases against the unlawful CJ Mohan Peiris.
- Not give in to Government demands
- Maintaining even a semblance of independence and resisting direct political interference.
- Restore its integrity
- Accountability and transparency
- To claw back some semblance of independence from the executive.
- To win back its lost reputation and respect for it.