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Sri Lanka to begin impeachment of chief justice

A spokesperson for the government of Sri Lanka on Thursday announced that the government had begun the process of impeaching the country's chief justice. The specific charges were not revealed [AP report], but spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, confirmed that the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was approved by more than 75 members of parliament. Tension continues to grow between the Sri Lankan government and the judiciary after an outspoken judge was assaulted last month [JURIST report]. At the end of September, Judicial Services Commission secretary and senior judge Manjula Thilakarathne had publicly expressed concern about his safety and the safety of his colleagues and also said that their judicial independence was being infringed. Thilakarathne was subsequently attacked on Sunday by unknown men in Mount Lavinia, a suburb of Colombo. According to local law enforcement, one person from a group of four conspirators exited a vehicle and beat Thilakaratne with a pistol while he was reading a newspaper in his car.

Sri Lanka is still struggling to establish rule of law in the wake of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war. In July the government of Sri Lanka said that it may take up to five years to prosecute people accused of war crimes [JURIST report] during the civil war it fought with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder]. Earlier in July Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Sri Lanka to stop arresting journalists who criticized the government [JURIST report]. In November the Sri Lankan government was subjected to criticism for its failure to investigate [JURIST report] issues of torture for past human rights violations and to enforce laws against continued torture and ill-treatment by government officials against civilians. In April 2011 a UN panel of experts on Sri Lanka found credible allegations of war crimes [JURIST report] committed during the country's war with the LTTE, warranting further investigation. In June 2010 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called for an international inquiry [JURIST report] into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government during its civil war.

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