Witness protection Bill to be tabled in P’ment today

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 00:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The much awaited witness protection bill will be submitted to Parliament tomorrow, Government sources told the Colombo Gazette. Human Rights groups and the international community have been raising concerns over the safety of witnesses giving evidence to a UN led probe on the war, particularly since Sri Lanka did not have witness protection laws. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinhe, had told the UN Human Rights Council yesterday that the bill will be submitted today but Government sources said it has been scheduled to be presented today. The Bill on “Assistance to and protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses” which safeguards the rights of victims and witnesses had been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and was gazetted on 8 August 2014. The salient features of the Bill include, inter alia, the recognition and setting out of rights of victims of crime and entitlements of witnesses; creation of certain offences that may be committed against victims of crime and witnesses; establishment of a mechanism for inquiry into complaints against infringement or imminent infringement of rights or entitlements of victims of crime or witnesses; establishment of an authority for the purpose of administering the provisions of the Bill; establishment of a special division by the Inspector General of Police to provide assistance to victims of crime; imposing duties on courts, commissions or law enforcement authorities in providing protection to victims of crime and witnesses; establishment of a special fund to be utilised for the payment of compensation to victims of crime and providing for the recording of evidence through contemporaneous audio visual linkage from remote locations within Sri Lanka.