Govt. backs mutual legal assistance with China

Friday, 9 October 2015 00:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent

Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and concerns between Sri Lanka and China was taken up for debate yesterday at Parliament.

Moving the motion setting the stage for the debate, Minister of Justice and Minister of Buddhasasana Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha said: “This agreement was made between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The agreement deals with mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and concerns inter alia the improved effectiveness on the part of both parties to the agreement through cooperation in relation to the prevention, investigation, prosecution and judicial proceedings, including organised crimes within their respective jurisdictions. The agreement was made on 16 September 2014.”

He pointed out the prevailing act only covers the Commonwealth Countries but looking at the crimes taking place, the leads spread into many nations across the world, mostly non-Commonwealth countries. China is a longstanding mutual friend of Sri Lanka so this agreement helps both nations to prevention, investigation, prosecution and judicial proceedings within the respective jurisdictions. 

“However, it will be subjected to prevailing domestic laws. Providing evidence both persons and documents, helping to locate people and items, handing over legal documents, providing facilities to provide evidence, helping investigations and prohibition, proscribing properties and money, and support by all ways and means as long as it doesn’t violate national laws. However, the support can be stopped and denied in the event it is a threat to national security, human rights, political beliefs, gender, and religious beliefs,” he added.

Joining the debate, Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan said: “I do not know the criminal activities which will be investigated in China under the provisions of this new law. Government activities to investigate matters happening in other countries were inadequate. During the previous Government many people committed grave crimes and their departures were facilitated by the Government so they are living in the comfort of Western countries, which are Commonwealth countries.”