No decision to sign MCC, SOFA, ACSA agreements

Sri Lanka government state logo

The Attorney General yesterday informed the Supreme Court that so far, the government has not taken any decision to sign the controversial Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and, Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA).

While assuring to maintain the status quo in respect of the concerned agreements, Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel PC appearing on behalf of the Attorney General further stated that the new government has decided to review and re-visit three agreements in order to come up with a fresh decision.

The Attorney General assured the Supreme Court that no steps will be taken to execute three agreements until the process of reviewing those agreements are concluded.

Accordingly, three Fundamental Rights petitions filed against MCC, SOFA and ACSA were yesterday fixed for March 25 by the Supreme Court five-judge-bench comprising Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, L.T.B. Dehideniya, Murdu Fernando, S. Thurairaja and Gamini Amarasekera.

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena appearing for the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), one of petitioners informed the court that his clients were compelled to file a petition since former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera was about to sign these agreements by violating the country’s sovereignty.

Three petitions including Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and Attorney-at-Law Darshana Weraduwage had filed these Fundamental Rights petitions naming the President, Finance Minister and Cabinet of Ministers as respondents.

In its petition, the GMOA had sought an interim order staying all approvals and decisions issued by anyone in respect of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and, Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA).

Five petitioners representing the GMOA including its President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya filed this petition naming 38 respondents including the Finance Minister and Cabinet of Ministers.

The petitioners sought a declaration that the petitioners Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 12 (1) and/or 14(1)(h) of the Constitution, have been infringed and continue to be infringed by the Cabinet of Ministers when granting approval for the execution of the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the United States of America.

The petitioners state that in the event that the purported Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact is signed or executed in Sri Lanka, it will undoubtedly erode and impinge on the fundamental tenet of Sovereignty of the country, which the Constitution expressly provides to be “Free, Sovereign and Independent”.

The Petitioners state that the purported Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) was entered into in the year 2007, between the Department of Defence of the United States of America and the Defence Ministry – Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and it was valid for only 10 years, thereafter, upon the expiry of the said agreement, Sri Lankan Government entered into fresh ACSA Agreement with 50 annexures in 2017.

“The Original Agreement which was a very simple agreement consisting of only 8 pages,was subsequently in 2017, converted into an extensive, exhaustive and extensive agreement, containing more than 80 pages,” the petitioners stated.

The petitioners state that the said new purported ACSA agreement is highly in favour of the United States of America and its Citizens, and accordingly, is against the national interest of Sri Lanka.

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena with Counsel Darshana Weraduwage, Counsel Ravindranath Dabare, Counsel Rukshan Senadheera, Lakmini Warusevitane and Manisha Dissanayake appeared for the petitioners.

Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel PC appeared for the Attorney General.

(Source: Daily News – By Lakmal Sooriyagoda)