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Statement on Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Statement on Proposed Constitutional Amendment

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Published by Sanjana Hattotuwa
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply perturbed by recent media reports that the government is planning on amending several provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply perturbed by recent media reports that the government is planning on amending several provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution.

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Published by: Sanjana Hattotuwa on Jun 05, 2013
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09/12/2013

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Centre for Policy Alternatives (Guarantee) Limited | 24/2, 28th Lane, off Flower Road, Colombo 7, Sri LankaTel: +94 11 2565304-6, 5552746, 5552748 | Fax: +94 11 4714460 | Email: cpa@cpalanka.org | Web: www.cpalanka.org
StatementonProposedConstitutionalAmendment
5June2013TheCentreforPolicyAlternatives(CPA)isdeeplyperturbedbyrecentmediareportsthatthegovernmentisplanningonamendingseveralprovisionsoftheThirteenthAmendmenttotheconstitution.OverthepastseveralweekstherewerecontradictorystatementsmadebyseniorMPsoftheUnitedPeoplesFreedomAlliance(UPFA)astowhetherdiscussionsareunderwaytoamendtheconstitution.However,allsuchreportsweredeniedbythe(acting)cabinetspokespersonwhoattheweeklycabinetnewsbriefingwhilstpurportingtorepresenttheofficialpositionofthegovernmentstatedthat;“ThePresidentexpresslysaidaParliamentarySelectCommitteeconsistingofallthepoliticalpartiescandiscussiftherewillbeanychangestothepresentConstitution,especiallytothe13thAmendment.Inthatscenario,nostepshavebeentakentochangethestatusquo.”HoweverseveralmediaorganizationsreportedthismorningthatthegovernmentistoproposeamendmentstoseveralprovisionsoftheThirteenthAmendmentandthattheseamendmentswillbeintroducedintheformofanurgentbill.Theproposedamendmentreportedlyincludes:
 
RemovingthesafeguardsinArticle154(G)(3)oftheconstitutiontopermitthecentretopasslegislationinrelationtosubjectsintheProvincialCouncilListbyasimplemajorityprovidedthatamajorityofPCsagreetothesaidlegislation.
 
RepealArticle154(A)(3)whichallowsParliamenttoprovidefortwoorthreeadjoiningprovincestoformoneadministrativeunit.InthesecircumstancesCPAiscompelledtoraisethefollowingconcernsinrelationtotheproposedamendmentsasindicatedbyseveralnewsreports.
ProcessofConstitutionalAmendment 
Aconstitutionderivesthemoralauthoritytobindallcitizensonlyifitisaresultofaconsultativeprocesswhichtakesintoconsiderationallperspectivesinapluralsociety.Theproposedamendmentshavefarreachingimplicationsbothintermsofpreservingdemocraticvaluesandachievingpost-warreconciliation.AssuchitishighlydisconcertingthattheproposedamendmentisaresultofaprocessthatwasshroudedinsecrecyandonlylimitedtosomeconstituentelementsoftheUPFAgovernment.CPAhascritiquedthelackoftransparencyandpublicparticipationinthelawmakingprocess–theprocessthatformulatesconstitutionalamendmentsandbroadsweepinglegislation–sinceitsinception.Howeverdespitepromises–includingtheproposalsofthepresentgovernmentintermsofits‘NationalHumanRightsActionPlan’–successivegovernmentshaveexploitedthesedeficienciesinthelawmakingprocessandhavenotdemonstratedanywillingnesstoremedythesefailings.Theincumbentgovernmenthasrepeatedlyadoptedtheprocessofclassifyingconstitutionalamendmentsas‘urgentbills’andtherebyfurtherlimitedtheexistingspaceforpublicdebateandjudicialscrutiny.Consideringtheseriousandirreversibleimpactthepresentamendmentwouldhaveonthepost-warreconciliationprocess.CPAstronglyurgesthegovernmentthatintheeventtheydoproposelegislationamendingtheThirteenthAmendmenttotheconstitution,theydesistfromadoptingtheproposedurgentbillprocedure.

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