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Sri Lanka chief justice convicted on three misconduct charges

The Sri Lankan committee appointed to investigate the impeachment charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake announced Saturday that they have found her guilty of three charges of misconduct. Bandaranayake was found guilty [Colombo Page report] of three of the five charges against her. The first charge was related to a conflict of interest claim. The fourth charge dealt with claiming of assets for tax purposes. The fifth charge was a claim of bias in dealing with a case against her husband. The second and third charges were dismissed. After this guilty ruling, the committee is allowing a 10-day debate period in parliament to decide if these charges are enough to remove Bandaranayake from her chief justice position. Those in support of Bandaranayake maintain the charges against her are unfair while those in support of the hearings claim the allegations should be enough for impeachment. The debate period will begin when parliament reconvenes January 8.

Earlier this month a group of judges got together to call for impartiality in the impeachment proceedings which began [JURIST reports] last month. 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 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.

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