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November 29, 2022

Call a referendum, INSD tells Ranil

Last Updated on September 15, 2022 by Lankae Cast

A group of Sri Lankan human rights activists based in Europe have called upon Sri Lanka government to pass the 22 amendment to the constitution by two-thirds majority and place it before the people at a referendum.

The International Network for Sri Lankan Democracy (INSD), says the determination of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the 22 amendment is a further blow to the moves to strengthen democracy in Sri Lanka.

We produce the full statement below:

The Ranil-Rajapaksa Government described the Twenty-Second Amendment Bill as one that will take the Constitution to what it was under the Nineteenth Amendment. Despite the boasts of President Wickremesinghe and Minister Wijedasa Rajapakse, the Bill fell much short of what the Nineteenth Amendment was. Particularly worrying is the new composition of the Constitutional Council, which is weighted in favour of the Government in power.

The determination of the Supreme Court on the Bill takes the Constitution still more backwards and has the effect of strengthening the Executive Presidency. The Supreme Court has held that a referendum is required if the power of the President to remove the Prime Minister is to be taken away and if the President must act on the advice of the Prime Minister in appointing Ministers and Deputy Ministers. These are provisions that the Supreme Court held in 2015 do not require a referendum. The provisions of the Constitution in Article 30 that state that the President is the Head of the Government and that the President should be elected by the people are not listed in Article 83 as requiring a referendum to amend.

While hoping that the Supreme Court would in the future go back to the position it took in 2015, we call upon the Government not to amend the Bill in Parliament but to pass it by a two-thirds majority and place it before the People at a referendum.