Posted on Friday 1st March 2013
Birmingham Law School’s Graham Gee recently participated in a seminar panel on the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. The panel, organized by the Bar Human Rights Committee and held at Doughty Street Chambers, coincided with the publication of a report on the impeachment by Geoffrey Robertson QC.
The other panelists were Geoffrey Robertson QC, Upul Jayasurlya (president of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka), Nihal Jayawickrama (who has held senior posts in the Sri Lanka governmental sector) and Mara Malagodi (a postdoctoral fellow at LSE whose research encompasses South Asian law and politics). The seminar was chaired by Kirsty Brimelow QC, a graduate of Birmingham Law School and the current chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee.
In his contribution to the panel discussion, Graham noted that the inappropriate impeachment of the Sri Lankan Chief Justice was an important reminder that the promotion and protection of judicial independence can be brutal and violent. He explained how the political and legal circumstances surrounding the removal of the Chief Justice resembled similar episodes in Malaysia and Pakistan over the last twenty-five years or so. At the same time, he cautioned that the problem was not with impeachment as a model of removal per se; all models of judicial removal can be problematic. Rather, the problem lay in the lack of a robust and enduring commitment to judicial independence within the political community at large.