Corporates and investors should be wary of the corruption levels in Sri Lanka – so corrupt that Transparency International is harassed. The Asian Human Rights Commission released the following statement on the recent court summons of TI.

SRI LANKA: TISL summoned before CID — the abuse of the criminal justice process to suppress discussions relating to corruption

The Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International (TISL) has been summoned to appear before the Financial Investigation Unit of Criminal Investigation Division who is conducting an investigation into a complaint on suspicions transactions of Transparency International Sri Lanka under chapter xi of Criminal Court Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979.

The notice of the order made under Section 109 (6) of Criminal Court Procedure Act No 15 of 1979 to the company secretary states that “According to the facts that reveal it is necessary to interview you and accountant of Transparency International Sri Lanka in connection to above investigation.

Hence you are hereby ordered to appear at Financial Investigation Unit FIU) of Criminal Investigation Division housed at Banking Studies Centre of Central Bank, Rajagriya with Accountant of the company on 8/10/2010 at 0900 a.m. under the powers of the section 109(6) of Criminal Court Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979.”

The FIU inquiry started after TISL commenced monitoring the abuse of state resources. According to information available, the investigation was later dropped. TISL issued their final report of the investigations last week. The notice of FIU to TISL to appear before it was issued after that.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has earlier warned that the criminal justice process will be used against all critics of the government. The trials against Sarath Fonseka and Tissasanayagam are test trials in this direction. Thousands of such cases have been made under anti-terrorism laws in the past. Like in the case of forced disappearances most of the victims of such arrests and detentions were innocent persons.

The use of courts for political control is a common method used in Burma and Cambodia for silencing political opponents and civil society critics. In particular all attempts to discuss problems of corruption are targets of such “criminal investigations”.

While the justice process is abused to punish opponents, the government propaganda machinery tries to make it appear that such decisions are taken through the courts and should therefore be respected. In this way any person may be imprisoned through fabricated charges and by the abuse of criminal justice process.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.