It is hard to understand why legal opinions sought on the Sri Lankan impeachment of CJ Shirani Bandaranayake by the Commonwealth Secretariat were not shared with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) before their most recent meeting, Canada’s Commonwealth Envoy, Senator Hugh Segal told Colombo Telegraph.
Senator Hugh Segal
It was understandable that the Secretary General should have commissioned independent legal and constitutional opinions about the impeachment of the Sri Lankan Chief Justice since he had formally expressed deep and public concern about the impeachment some weeks earlier, Segal said.
“That any such opinions,once received,were not shared with the members of the CMAG, before their most recent discussions which included a long engagement on Sri Lanka and CHOGM is, however, much harder to understand,” the Canadian Envoy to the Commonwealth said in response to questions posed by Colombo Telegraph.
“CMAG,under the distinguished leadership of the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh,had the right to those opinions before they met,” Segal observed.
He added that transparency within the Commonwealth has experienced a setback of substance.
“The ‘good offices’of the Secretary General should not preclude Commonwealth ministers having access to research for which they have paid,” Segal asserted.
Segal’s comments have been echoed by the President of the Sri Lankan Bar Upul Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya said that in the interest of transparency, since Sharma did not pay for the opinions personally he had an obligation to reveal those opinions to the Commonwealth membership.
As exclusively reported in the Colombo Telegraph, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma may have covered up two key independent legal opinions on the legality of Sri Lanka’s impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, withholding the content of those opinions even from the powerful CMAG. Speculation in Commonwealth and diplomatic circles is that the Secretary General has decided not to disclose the content of the opinions because they may have forced him to act against Sri Lanka which is the next host of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this November, a top diplomat told Colombo Telegraph.