25 September, 2020

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CPA Urges Govt To Engage All Stakeholders In The Law Making Process

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) while welcoming the the bill issued on August 11 on victim and witness protection has urged the government to engage all stakeholders including affected communities and civil society in the law making process in order to provide for a stronger process in the search for truth and justice.

CPA Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

CPA Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

In a statement released last night  on the bill titled ‘Assistance to and protection of victims of crime and witnesses’, while acknowledging the bill in its present form is an improvement on the previous draft has called upon the government to consider concerns expressed over the issues addressed in the bill both at policy ad practical level.

The organisation has stressed on the need for further reform in the bill if human rights protection and fundamental freedoms are to be genuinely addressed and realized by the government.

It has commended the bill encompassing fundamental principles including the recognition of the rights of the victims to be treated with equality, fairness and dignity and the provision of duties of public officers including members of armed forces, police and judiciary to recognize, protect and promote the rights and entitlements of the victims and witnesses.

The CPA has gone on to praise the definition of human rights used in the Bill since it would assist in adhering to international standards and not the narrow interpretation that might have undermined the rights of the victims and witnesses.

Furthermore, several other issues arising from the Bill that requires further attention have also been noted in the media release issued by the CPA as well as suggestions to improve on the currently included sections, to which includes:

– The establishment of an authority that will have a board of management comprising of ex-officio members of the Ministry of Justice, Police, Women’s Affairs, Children, members of the Human Rights Commission, nominee of the Attorney General, nominee of IGP and five members appointed by the Executive from academic/professional experience in the field of criminology, criminal justice system, human rights or medicine.

The CPA has recommended that the authority includes technical competences necessary for its work including independent actors and practitioners with expertise in mental health and social protection

– Concerns over whether the authority will be able to fully implement what is required of it in the present political context despite it being provided with a range of powers including the review of policies, legislation, practices and procedures, advise on possible reforms, promotion of codes of conduct and best practices, development of a scheme of assistance and protection for victims and witnesses and the issuing of guidelines

The CPA has pointed out that against the backdrop of increasing allegations of police brutality and corruption and inaction in both the Attorney General’s Department and the Police to act on serious human rights violations, considerable concern remains as to why whether the authority can be independent and withstand possible interference/ influence by state and non-state entities.

“Moreover, there is the issue of whether there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent re-victimization within the process,” the statement notes.

Furthermore, it has welcomed the inclusion on the section on compensation that provides that a High Court and Magistrates Court may upon convicting a person, in addition to any penal sanction order, convict the person to pay compensation to the victim and the witness. But it highlights on the fact that the government has to expand on this section by introducing a comprehensive policy for compensation for serious violations of human rights that is transparent and equitable.

Commenting on the references in the Bill on the facilitation of providing testimonies through audio visual linkages within Sri Lanka, it notes that stating the testimonies will be obtained upon satisfying specific criteria including the presence of a judicial or public officer in the remote location can be problematic. “The presence of such officials may deter victims and witnesses from coming forward due to possible security threats in the event their location is made public,” the CPA notes adding that the the increasing politicisation with the Attorney Generals Department also raises questions over whether such testimony can be obtained or whether a change of location is needed regarding the role the Department can play in the search for truth and justice.

While stating these issues are highlighted in the context of requiring urgent reforms to uphold the rule of law and end the culture of impunity, the Department notes that it is only the first step by the government in meeting its obligations towards its citizens.

“Much more is required in terms of implementation that recognizes and provides for the needs of victims and witnesses,” the CPA notes.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    3

    Wonder whether the [Edited out] CPA and its Leader Mr Sarawanamuttu would have recommended that the Govt engage Mr Prabakaran too on this victim protections and human rights up holding Bill if Mr Milliband was able lift Prabkaran out of Nanthikadal…

    • 0
      0

      Why waste time speculating on hypothetical and improbable scenarios?

  • 3
    2

    No need.

    People have elected their MPs.

    So engage only with MPs. And disregard the rest. Laws are made only by elected representatives in every country. SL should not be any different.

    • 3
      2

      The problem is that Sri Lankan lawmakers are only capable of enacting obnoxious and draconian legislations that show a total disregard for the citizens’ rights. On rare occasions, when they do make some good and sensible laws these are not implemented properly or jettisoned outright. The 13th Amendment and the 17th Amendment are two classic examples.

      Our president, ministers and MPs have a great penchant for passing mostly self-serving laws, not laws that benefit citizens.

      P.S. You should dispense with the first two letters of your name for not being aware of these basic realities.

    • 1
      2

      You left out a sentence, you should have said that “In Sri lanka only Sinhalese MPs have the right and privilege to “engage” Tamil MPs are just elected to show that SL is a DEMOCRAZY!! Or the Tamil MPS have to say “yes” to whatever the Sinhala MODAYA MPs say or otherwise they get a free ride on a WHITE VAN!!!

  • 2
    4

    Saravanamuththu is out of mind. IF not he won’t get the grants from the west to work on sabotaging Sri lanka.

    See how United nations work. Why there is a security council. Greater nations need more authority. The five powerful countries decide the fate of every one else.

    Why Only Sri lanka need to be screwed up by doing what you say ?

    You should go to Tamilnadu and ask Jayalalitha to implement these things. So, all the castes can live without any caste discrimination.

  • 2
    0

    Saravanamuththu coughs for his pay masters.
    Just ignore him.

    He is incapable of serving the society in compatible to his Intellectual qualifications.
    Another misfit to the society like Jehan………..
    What the point of all the education, if one can not make use of oit for the benefit of the society.

    Do they sweat for their money ??????????????????????
    Just treat what they say with a pinch of salt.

    Now, lets see the vultures rushing to the defence of their plant.

  • 0
    1

    Look who Sara is pleading to, for justice and truth.

    Asking the wolf to bring truth and justice to the lambs.

    What a laugh.

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