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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 181st session
(Geneva, 10 October 2007)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. D.M.S.B. Dissanayake, a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka at the time of the events, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/181/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 180th session (May 2007),

Recalling the following: on 7 December 2004, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka found Mr. Dissanayke, then an opposition member of the Sri Lankan Parliament, in contempt of court for his criticism of an advisory opinion given by the Court, and sentenced him to two years'; rigorous imprisonment; he served his sentence until, in early February 2006, President Rajapakse remitted the remaining portion of his sentence; Mr. Dissanayake lost his parliamentary seat and, in addition, as a result of his conviction will be barred from voting and standing in elections for a period of seven years,

Recalling also the serious concerns it has expressed regarding the fairness of the proceedings against Mr. Dissanayake, given that he had strongly criticised the Chief Justice and signed a motion for his removal from office and that the Chief Justice was nevertheless hearing the case in question, and that, moreover, the judgment was not open to judicial review,

Recalling that it has consequently called on the President of Sri Lanka to grant Mr. Dissanayake a full pardon, and that on the occasion of the Secretary General's visits to Sri Lanka in November 2006 and March 2007, he raised this request with President Rajapakse, who promised to examine it in a positive light; noting that, according to a communication from the Secretary General of the Parliament of Sri Lanka dated 29 August 2007, the Presidential Secretariat had informed the Parliament that the IPU's request for a pardon for Mr. Dissanayake was being considered by the President,

Considering that, at the meeting he had with the Committee during the 117th Assembly, the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation invited the Committee to conduct an on-site mission regarding the Sri Lankan cases it is examining, including that of Mr. Dissanayake, so as to enable it to gather on the spot first-hand information from the competent authorities, the parliamentarians concerned and other appropriate sources,

  1. Thanks the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation for the invitation extended to the Committee to conduct an on-site visit, believing that it may contribute to a settlement of this case, and requests the Committee to make arrangements for such a mission to be carried out as early as possible;

  2. Can only meanwhile reiterate its deep concern that Mr. Dissanayake will be prevented from voting and standing in elections owing to a highly questionable verdict and sentence, neither of which, in violation of basic fair trial standards, is open to judicial review;

  3. Reaffirms that, in making the offending statement, Mr. Dissanayake was merely exercising his freedom of speech, and recalls that both common law jurisprudence and human rights doctrine amply demonstrate that freedom of speech must be the overriding value where contempt of court is concerned;

  4. Consequently reiterates its call on the President of Sri Lanka to grant Mr. Dissanayake a pardon so as to enable him, if not to resume his parliamentary mandate, at least to vote and stand in elections, thereby redressing the injustice suffered by Mr. Dissanayake as a result of the contempt of court proceedings; and expresses the hope that the President will give its plea due consideration even before the mission goes ahead;

  5. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 118th Assembly of the IPU (Cape Town, April 2008).
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