Sri Lanka’s rule-of-law crisis: Patterns of impunity & immunity

Date & time

1–2pm Thursday 14 November 2013


Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law, Building 5, Fellows Rd, The Australian National University


Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Advocate, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and Senior Columnist, The Sunday Times, Colombo


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.


Sri Lanka offers a potent lesson to other countries in Asia in its cynical adherence in theory to international law norms while blatantly flouting their substance through the treatment of its citizens. These patterns of impunity have persisted for decades on the part of successive governments and have impacted on vulnerable segments of the majority as well as the minority communities with singular force. Ratification of international treaties has failed to ensure basic protections for the minorities or for political dissenters, journalists and activists. In today’s Sri Lanka, the Rule of Law and fundamental preconditions of a democratic order, viz, an independent judiciary, enforceable rights and freedoms of media have been replaced by an unprecedented centralization of power in the Executive Presidency, the continuation of anti-terrorism laws and the use of the military to suppress protest. This seminar discussion will focus on the deterioration of one of Asia’s formerly longstanding democracies and the virtual destruction of its legal order.

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