By Saman Indrajith
The European Union delegation that visited the country recently to review the GSP Plus facility granted to Sri Lanka observed that the incumbent government was turning back one by one the democratic achievements gained for the people by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella asserted yesterday.
Addressing a press conference held at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, MP Kiriella said the EU had been monitoring closely what took place in the country during the recent years. “We introduced the 19th Amendment which brought about democratic values as well as further ensuring the rights of the people. Powers that had been concentrated around the presidency were delegated to the Prime Minister, parliament, the Cabinet and the constitutional council. The country was set on the path of democracy by the changes of the 19th Amendment. Soon after this government came to power, they did away with the 19th Amendment and consolidated all powers around the executive presidency once again. This is the mother of all ills and problems people are facing today,” MP Kiriella said.
“The EU delegation before leaving the country made a statement which stated that they had regretted observing the prevailing situation with regard to human rights and the rule of law in the country,” he said.
The Chief Opposition Whip said that the 19th Amendment had ensured the protection of human rights and upheld principles of rule of law. “We as a nation are bound to ensure the protection of human rights outlined in the conventions and treaties that have been ratified and we have signed to. That is an international obligation. After doing away with the 19th Amendment a situation has been created depriving people of those rights. Before the 20th Amendment the appointments to the top most posts had been done by the constitutional council. The council we have now has no powers to reject any nomination and propose its own. This is a sad situation,” MP Kiriella said.
SJB MP Tissa Attanayake also addressed the press.