The Ministry of Justice has decided to delay the presenting of the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill to Parliament.

In a letter to Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris PC, Justice Minister Ali Sabry informed the Ministry has decided to delay the presenting of the bill to parliament in view of the observations and concerns raised by the BASL and Ministry of Justice-Criminal Law Reforms Sub Committee.

The Justice Minister has informed both the BASL and the Ministry’s Criminal Law Reforms Sub Committee agreed during a meeting held on October 18 that the Bill requires to be amended to reflect its true objective.

Meanwhile, Minister Sabry has expressed his appreciation for the BASL committee’s spirited effort in examining the proposed law.

The Minister reiterated that the BASL representatives and the Ministry’s Special Unit- Criminal Law Reforms Sub Committee should meet and prepare the necessary amendments to the Bill.

The BASL had called upon the government not to proceed with the Bill in its present form.

In a letter to the Justice Minister, the BASL had raised concerns that the Bill will have an adverse impact on several Constitutional safeguards which are available to the people of this country and are inconsistent with several fundamental principles which have been established in the criminal procedure of our nation for more than a century.

These include the freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment guaranteed by Article 11 of the Constitution; the freedom from arbitrary detention and the right to be produced before a judge of the nearest competent court in terms of procedure established by the law,

and guaranteed by Article 13(2) of the Constitution; and the right to a fair trial guaranteed to every accused by Article 13(3) of the Constitution.

The BASL stated that the Bill will allow the High Court Judge to dispense with the physical presence of a person whose trial is pending or has begun even without his consent. The BASL observed conducting a criminal trial without the physical presence of the accused will deprive him of the opportunity to consult with and give adequate instructions to his counsel.





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