Enforced Disappearances Bill passed in Parliament

Published : 9:00 am  March 8, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 

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By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana   

The International Convention on Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearances Bill, which provides provision to set up an office to trace those who have disappeared, was passed amidst chaotic scenes in Parliament yesterday afternoon.   

 

The Bill was passed by a majority of 37 votes with 53 members voting for and 16 against.   


The trouble started when the time came for voting when joint opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardene raised an objection stating that the opposition agreed to take up the debate following an assurance given by the government to postpone the voting for another day to enable MPs to examine the Bill further.   


“The government agreed to postpone the debate and I request that this takes place so that we can study the Bill further,” he said.   


JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti also expressed the same sentiments and requested that the debate be held on another date. “We did not talk about this particular Bill in today’s debate as we were made to understand that it will be taken up later,” he said.   


Speaker Karu Jayasuriya then made two suggestions first to suspend the session and discuss the issue at a party leaders meeting and the second to extend yesterday’s session by two hours. No agreement was reached on both proposals.   Joint Opposition MP Wimal Weerawansa said MPs have not got the copies of the amendment which the government is claiming to have brought in.   Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who joined the cross talk said the government had handed over the copies of the amendment in the morning and thus performed its duty.   Minister of Foreign Affairs Tilak Marapana said the amendment was one which the opposition had wanted. He said it is amended to exclude Sri Lankan citizens from facing any investigation in another country. “It was the opposition who wanted this amendment brought in and if they don’t want it we also don’t need it,” he said.   


At that point Prime Minister Wickremesinghe announced that the government is withdrawing the amendment.   The vote was taken thereafter and apparently it was passed without the amendment made by the government.   

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