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Gov. proposes clause to exclude Lankans from extradition in new Bill


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  • Government recommends adding phrase ‘excluding Sri Lankans’ to Protect against Enforced Disappearances Bill



By Skandha Gunasekara

The Clause on extradition in the Protection Against Enforced Disappearances Bill would require amending to clarify and ensure that it did not apply to Sri Lankan citizens, the Government said in Parliament yesterday (7 March).

 Following objections raised by the Opposition, Foreign Affairs Minister Tilak Marapana, said that the phrase ‘excluding Sri Lankans’ should be inserted in Section 8 of the Bill, to allay any doubts that the legislation could be used by a foreign state to try a Sri Lankan who had committed an offense in that respective nation.

 Section 8 of the Bill provides for the Sri Lankan Government to inform any foreign state which makes an extradition request of the steps taken, or to be taken, by the Sri Lankan Government regarding the extradition or prosecution of the accused of offenses under the Act.

 This was in response to the Joint Opposition requesting the debate on the Bill be delayed further, claiming further amendments were needed. The JO had already twice successfully lobbied for the debate on the Bill to be postponed in Parliament.

“This was the only concern raised by JO MPs when the Bill was discussed at the Sectoral Oversight Committee. I talked with the Prime Minister to change the clause to specifically mention that extradition does not apply for Sri Lankans. It is redundant as this legislation does not in any way compel us to extradite that person, but we make the amendment for clarity. What is mentioned in the International Convention is not the law of Sri Lanka and what becomes law here is what is mentioned in this Act,” Marapana explained. 

Furthermore, the Minister elaborated that there was nothing in the Bill was retrospective and that it only applied to offences committed in the future. “All the offences mentioned in this Bill are already considered offences according to the Penal Code and other laws in Sri Lanka. Under the Section 3 of the Bill, a person guilty of the offence of enforced disappearance can be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 20 years, and be liable to pay a fine not exceeding Rs 1million and compensation not less than Rs 500,000 to a victim,” he clarified.

 The Bill is to fulfill the Sri Lankan Governments obligation to the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED), which the Government ratified in December of 2015.

The Bill seeks to ensure that every Sri Lankan citizen has the freedom to live without fear of being a victim of enforced disappearances or abductions.

However, upon request of the Joint Opposition, the Government agreed to postpone the debate to a future date to allow more time for the Bill to be deliberated.  

 


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