Systematic erosion of democracy and democratic institutions and the emergence of a semi-authoritarian system

(January 18, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) says that it has witnessed a systematic erosion of democracy and democratic institutions and the emergence of a semi-authoritarian system of government due to the concentration of all political powers of the State in the hands of the executive President under the present Constitution, who exercises such power arbitrarily and without accountability, usurping the powers of Parliament and the cabinet of ministers, which has resulted in the,
i. Subversion of the democratic rights of the people of Sri Lanka with impunity, by the assassination, abduction, assault and directing threats to the lives of media persons who refuse to tow their political line;
ii. Branding lawyers who represent individuals, associations and organizations representing dissenting views and trade union leaders, and other individual dissenters in society as ‘traitors,’
iii. Undermining of the cause of justice, and due process of the law and procedure by politicizing the quasi-judicial office of the Attorney-General, the Police Department, public administration, state controlled media institutions and also by attempting to influence the independence of the judiciary,
iv. Violation of the Constitution, with impunity using the parliamentary majority procured and sustained by un-democratic means,
v. Corruption, Waste and misappropriation of public funds, by-passing the legal provisions undermining the sovereignty of the people,
vi. Violation of the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of the free citizens who have been displaced by the armed conflict ( including children, women the disabled and the sick) by detaining them in camps depriving them of their basic minimum needs, and generally,
vii. Violation all tenets and norms of democracy and good governance namely, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.

LfD further states, "Since all appeals and requests made to the incumbent President by various organisations and concerned individuals in this regard have been treated with contempt our organisation is of the view that no purpose will be served by re-agitating the same to him.

"We therefore call upon, all other serious aspirants for the post of the President of Sri Lanka in the forthcoming election to give a resolute undertaking to the people of Sri Lanka that they will take and implement all necessary measures to immediately implementing the existing provisions of the Constitution including the 17th Amendment and then:,

i. Take steps to change/amend the Constitution of Sri Lanka in such a way, that the person holding the post of the head of the executive will, either is elected by the Parliament or answerable to the Parliament duly elected by the people’
ii. To guarantee to the people of Sri Lanka that such changed/amended Constitution of the country shall contain provisions protecting the rule of law which includes the separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and the accountability and transparency of all organs of government,

"We urge the people of Sri Lanka to elect a person who gives a clear assurance and an undertaking to fulfill the above aspirations of all the people of Sri Lanka."

Lawyers for Democracy is an organization of lawyers with island wide geographical representation committed for the establishment of, democracy, the rule of law and good governance, protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in their fullness in the Republic of Sri Lanka. Following Attorneys-at-Law are the conveners of the LfD.

Lal Wijenayake
Chandra Kumarage
V. Sumanthiran
Sudath Nethesinghe
L. Jothikumar
Ranjit Wijekoon
Sujeewa Lal Dahanayake
Sudarshana Gunawardana


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