Samagi Vanitha Balawegaya (SVB), the women’s wing of the Sri Lanka’s main opposition party, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has expressed their grave concern at the “deleterious impact that the proposed draft 20th Amendment to the Constitution would have on women and children in the country.”
“We are saddened that the struggle for dignity and rights of the women of Sri Lanka may be further jeopardized due to the attempt over centralization of power in the Presidency,” The SVB said.
They further said that if the executive branch of the country enjoys overly extensive governing privileges, it may misuse these privileges or abuse their powers.
“In democracy, a government should be based on a separation of power, and the independence of those powers specifically, that of the judiciary. The judicial branch should, therefore, institute limitations and preventives to restrain the powers of all branches so as to ensure that the acts of government remain as lawful as possible,” they added.
The SVB said women’s and children’s rights in public and private life have often been obtained and ensured implementation by independent commissions like the HRC and protected by courts. But, as these institutions which are vital for women and children struggling to find redress in difficult circumstances have been deeply compromised by the 20A, which affects their independence and impartiality, will have a direct and harmful impact on women and children, they emphasized.
“Judicial appointments to all levels must be made on merit on the basis of clearly defined criteria and by a publicly declared process. Women are especially vulnerable in the area of justice,” the SVB said in the statement, paying attention to the effect on the judiciary by the 20A.
In conclusion, the SVB said that the existence of laws outlining the rights of the people and the duties of the State, is essential. Based on this, the group said that the legislators have often carefully drafted rules of civil and criminal procedure.
“These rules should ideally include safeguards so that the state does not abuse its power or exceed its authority to an extent that negatively affects human rights. These safeguards are indispensable to women and children in their struggle for justice and equal opportunities to contribute to the well-being and progress of Sri Lanka. “