He made this statement at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Tbillisi in Georgia yesterday (July 18), while intervening at the Summit Session at the Tbillisi Conference & Concert Hall.
The Global Session, chaired by Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze with the participation of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Speakers, Ministers and other representatives from 75 membr countries. The Open Government Partnership is a mechanism formed to enhance transparency and accountability to the public and peoples participation in governance.
President Sirisena spoke at the Session with the theme, How the decisions taken at the OGP could be used for the welfare and benefit of the people of the member countries?
The President, expressing his views further regarding the steps that have been taken by Sri Lanka to promote the principles of Open Government Partnership, said that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka was introduced within a few months of assuming office by him and it became a key factor that strengthened transparency, accountability and the rule of law in the country. With the passage of this important constitutional amendment, the open government partnership with the executive, legislature and judiciary was transformed to yield progressive benefits.
Prior to that, the Chief Justice, the judges of the Supreme Court, the Inspector General of Police, the Attorney General and the Commission officials were appointed at the discretion of the President, but today all those appointments are made through a statutory committee appointed by the Parliament, the President said.
President Sirisena said that at the time when he assumes the office of the President the judicial system was corrupted due to the political interferences and the present government took steps to protect the independence of the judiciary.
All the Commissions, including the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, have been strengthened and they operate as independent and impartial institutions without the interference from anyone, the President further said.
Any politician or government officer should use their vested powers at a minimal level personally and should use it collectively, the President said. He added that the government is taking steps to apprise the government officials through workshops and seminars, and to educate the public about how the power of the civil society be used to eliminate fraud and corruption.
Sri Lanka was offered membership of the Open Government Partnership in 2015, following the election of President Maithripala Sirisena, whose commitment to fight corruption gained international attention.
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.