On 31 March 2011, the United Nations Secretary-General’s panel of experts handed down a report on ‘Accountability in Sri Lanka’. Among other things, the report observed that the Attorney-General’s Department in Sri Lanka suffers from a lack of independence from the President. Further, the Department plays a dual role both advising the government and functioning as the public prosecutorial agency. The Sri Lankan Solicitor-General is part of this Department, and is therefore either paralysed by, or a product of, these institutional dichotomies.
This article will seek to explain the role of the Solicitor-General in Sri Lanka, and the controversial relationship between the Attorney-General’s Department and the President. It will briefly explore the historical context, identify the appointment process, and describe the current functions of the Sri Lankan Solicitor-General. It will argue that the Solicitor-General cannot be both public prosecutor and government advisor, and perform either role with integrity. Therefore, the Solicitor-General in Sri Lanka should be established as an independent statutory office, and the prosecutorial function should be transferred to a separate government agency, rather than under the President.