Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka’s capital this week, the Law Society of England and Wales supports demands for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes and ongoing human rights abuses.

Law Society President Nicholas Fluck said:

“Two years ago Sri Lanka was denied the privilege of hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Nothing has changed, yet this week they will have their chance. There have been serious breaches of the rule of law and judicial independence has been eroded. The International Bar Association Human Rights Institute was denied entry to Sri Lanka only last week.

“Prime Minister David Cameron will be attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. The Law Society fully supports him in his demand that Sri Lanka independently and transparently investigates alleged war crimes and allegations of continuing human rights abuses, guarantees freedom of expression and stamps out intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders.

“We cannot look away as members of the legal profession face gross and persistent harassment. We remain committed to supporting those who do uphold the rule of law in Sri Lanka.”

Earlier this year, the Law Society supported the Commonwealth Lawyers Association’s call for Sri Lanka to be suspended from the Commonwealth, following reports of serious breaches of the rule of law and judicial independence. Chief Justice Bandaranayake was removed from the office of Chief Justice in defiance of the judgements of the highest court in Sri Lanka after a flawed impeachment process in Parliament.

The International Bar Association delegation that was denied access to Sri Lanka last week, despite having visas, included the United Nations Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, and the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy.