Women’s collective condemns attack on Puttalam Quazi
Urges Quazi system be made part of Sri Lanka’s regular administration of justice
COLOMBO – Women’s Action Network (WAN) condemned the physical assault on the Puttalam Quazi, Dr. Mohamed Rahmathulla Mohamed on Sunday (26) and called for an impartial investigation into to the attack and the perpetrators be held accountable.
WAN, a collective of eight women’s groups that empowers and advocates for women and women survivors of war, violence and other injustices, in a statement issued on Wednesday (29), also highlighted the urgent need to reform the Quazi System as a part of the country’s regular administration of justice and judicial institutions be protected against intimidation from powerful or influential persons or bodies.
The statement in full:
Women’s Action Network condemn the physical assault on the Puttalam Quazi Dr. Mohamed Rahmathulla Mohamed on March 26, 2023. There should be an impartial investigation into this crime and the perpetrators of violence on a judicial officer must be held accountable. This is the third time a Quazi had been assaulted in Puttalam alone.
Dr. Rahmathulla has been appointed Quazi by the Judicial Service Commission recently and has commenced his work in Puttalam. However, some are not happy about his appointment. There is a letter being circulated, sent by the Puttalam Grand Mosque to MP Ali Sabry Raheem expressing disapproval of his appointment, that their nominee has not been appointed, and asking him to intervene and review this appointment. Interestingly the letter also adverts to ‘regionalism’ to mention that the Quazi is not from Puttalam.
On Sunday (26), the Quazi had, upon being invited, visited the MP’s house in Puttalam Town and we learn from several sources that there have been arguments and subsequently the Quazi has been beaten up by the MP and his relative.
Quazis are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Should there be any concern or complaints about the manner a Quazi is functioning or his conduct, they should be taken up with the JSC. No one is entitled to take the law into his hand. However, there have been instances where Quazis encounter threats and intimidation in the community when they do not abide by the instructions of religious institutions and politicians.
We also want to highlight the protest organized by Puttalam mosque on January 13, 2023 against the proposed reforms to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) and most specifically targeting women who are working on MMDA reform with the victims. We are well aware of how in the past the mosques and their Mimbers (pulpit) have been abused to attack legal and religious scholars, activists and victims whenever they raise the need to reform the MMDA.
This latest assault on the Quazi vindicates the call that has been made for well over four decades and reiterate the urgent need to reform the MMDA to be fully on par with the fundamental rights chapter of the constitution. The Women’s Action Network also wishes to stress the urgent need to reform the Quazi System as a part of the country’s regular administration of justice system ensuring the independence of Quazis in all parts of the country within the mainstream justice system.
All judicial institutions should be protected against intimidation from powerful or influential persons or bodies including mosque administrations. The Judicial Service Commission which is vested with appointment and disciplinary authority over Quazis and the Ministry of Justice should treat this as an urgent matter and provide protection to all Quazis.
– Women’s Action Network (collective of 8 women’s groups)