FM resignation ‘interim step to criminal justice outcome’, says TISL

Friday, 11 August 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) in a statement yesterday welcomed the resignation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Ravi Karunanayake following allegations of wrongdoing that have emerged before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Bond Issuances. 

Whilst acknowledging that such actions emanate from public accountability, TISL said it was mindful that there exist allegations of several offences of bribery and corruption, which must be dealt with using the full strength of the anti-corruption framework, not limited to the mandate of the CoI.

In all instances of alleged bribery, TISL reiterated the need to remember the existence of a bribe-giver and a bribe-taker. Whilst the CoI is empowered to provide recommendations to the President, TISL highlighted the power vested in the Attorney General’s Department to institute actions based on evidence produced before the CoI, particularly the acceptance of a bribe under the penal code.

TISL is however concerned that the only legal recourse to allegations of bribe-giving is under the Bribery Act. The Bribery Act stipulates that prosecutions can only be filed “by or with the written sanction” of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). The gazette establishing the CoI states that it will not prevent other concurrent investigations and actions.

Under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, CIABOC has been empowered to initiate action on their own motion, without the need for a complaint being made. In a response to a RTI application by TISL, CIABOC revealed that not a single case has been taken up pursuant to this power as at 30 April 2017. TISL noted that the allegations being made fall directly within the mandate of CIABOC.

TISL called on the Attorney General’s Department and the Commissioners of CIABOC to exercise their mandate and restore public confidence in anti-corruption processes.