Conflicts & War

Sri Lanka’s top court allows probe to fix responsibility over economic crisis

Colombo, Oct 7 (EFE).- The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has approved two petitions to investigate and pinpoint the people responsible for the country’s economic crisis, including several members of the Rajapaksa clan that ruled the island for years, the petitioners said on Friday.

The petition named former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his brother and former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, and several high-ranking officials in charge of financial institutions, one of the petitioners – nonprofit Transparency International Sri Lanka – said in a statement.

“This is a great victory to Sri Lanka. We have challenged several (corruption) cases before but we didn’t succeed. This also shows the gravity (of the situation) Sri Lanka is in now,” another petitioner Chandra Jayaratne, the former head of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, told EFE.

Jayaratne said that his petition had initially called for the appointment of a committee to investigate the causes of the crisis and fix responsibility, but now the Auditor General of the country is set to carry out the probe.

As per the court order, a report has to be presented to it before Nov. 30 with information about key developments such as the Sri Lankan Monetary Board’s decision to set the value of the Sri Lankan rupee at 203 unites against the United States dollar and the delay in seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund,

Similarly, the auditor general is tasked with reviewing “all matters relating to the settlement of the sovereign bond of $500 million on Jan. 18, 2022 using foreign reserves,” and carrying out “an audit on the loss caused to the Central Bank by such payments.”

“This is a first step, and we are hopeful that something good will happen,” Jayaratne said.

For months, Sri Lanka has been going through its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, with high inflation aggravating the crisis triggered by the drying up of foreign currency reserves, which forced the government to default on its foreign debt payments in May and negotiate a bailout with IMF that is yet to materialize.

In the context of the island’s recent political and economic crisis, several countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany tabled a motion at the United Nations Humans Rights Council promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. The motion was approved by the Council on Thursday.

However, Colombo has opposed the proposal, calling it practically useless for the Sri Lankan people and insisting that many of its points went against the national constitution. EFE


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