Politicians, priests, media can’t decide guilt of citizens - Mangala | Daily News

Politicians, priests, media can’t decide guilt of citizens - Mangala

Elected and appointed public officials in the country have sworn an oath to uphold and defend a Constitution that does not empower politicians, priests or social media platforms to decide the guilt of a citizen, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera pointed out yesterday in a special statement issued to news media.

The Finance Minister, a veteran fighter against all forms of ethnically divisive politics, was responding to criticisms of his recent public arguments against ethnically hostile politics and interventions by clergy in nationally sensitive political matters.

In his bluntly critical statement yesterday, Minister Samaraweera declared that “racists and xenophobes have hijacked our justice system and literally turned it upside down.”

“In a country with such a proud tradition of justice, where all citizens were once entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty, people including a cabinet minister have been declared guilty without evidence, and the police have literally invited public complaints against these targeted four individuals in order to find them guilty of something – anything.

Every elected and appointed official in the country has sworn an oath to uphold and defend a Constitution that does not give power to politicians, priests or social media platforms to decide who is guilty or innocent of any crime, including terrorism.” That, he said is a sacred duty left to our judges, after a police investigation and fair trial.

Minister Samaraweera noted that if Rishard Bathurdeen or anyone else has committed a crime, there is a process for a criminal investigation to commence, for evidence against them to be presented before courts and for justice to take its course. “If they are guilty, they should be punished.

Especially in the current context, our Police and Security Forces have unprecedented autonomy to investigate and prosecute anyone remotely connected to these attacks.”

However, he said that never in the history of our country have people first been declared guilty by the press and in Parliament, only to thereafter have the police call for evidence that they may have committed a crime.

“Today the targets are Muslim leaders being accused of terrorism. Who will tomorrow’s targets be? What will they be accused of? If this becomes the new norm, no one will be safe from this kind of mob lynching. In a way, we must sympathize with those Sri Lankans on the street who have taken the bait fed to them by their political and religious leaders and are driven to violence by fear and a carefully nurtured sense of hatred,” he said, adding that even those people who cursed his parents for his actions must be doing so because they have been programmed to be afraid of anyone who dared question the leaders of their tribe.

See page 8 for the full statement

 


 

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