Sri Lanka - October 2022
Sri Lanka passes 22nd constitutional amendment amid criticism
Sri Lanka's parliament passed its 22nd constitutional amendment on 21 October aimed at curbing the executive powers of the president - a key demand from protesters following the economic and political crisis. The amendment re-establishes a constitutional council which recommends appointments to nine independent commissions responsible for overseeing human rights and anti-corruption investigations, among other things. However, critics argue that the council is a mere expansion of the parliamentary council it replaces, with a majority of Council members controlled or influenced by the president. While a step in the right direction in terms of undoing some of the excesses of the previous amendment, more needs to be done to appropriately de-politicize and apportion governmental powers.
“Rehabilitation” bill draws strong criticism
A Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill released on 23 September was tabled after the Supreme Court ruled it was inconsistent with the constitution. Civil society groups have heavily criticized the bill for its vague clauses that could allow for various types of abuses, including arbitrary detentions without judicial oversight and government officials protected from criminal liability, amongst many other issues. Critics have also alleged the bill is a way of further entrenching militarization in military-run rehabilitation centres and could be used against protesters.