Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill passed amidst chaos

Published : 12:01 am  August 10, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana   

The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill was passed with Amendments amidst chaos in Parliament last morning.   


Parliament went into chaos when the joint opposition accused Speaker Karu Jayasuriya of not inquiring from the House whether it was agreeable to the second reading of the Bill. Speaker Jayasuriya who responded said he made the inquiry before going into the committee stage. 

A division was called by the opposition for one amendment. The amendment was passed with 97 members voting for and 24 against. Opposition MP Chandana Weerakody who raised a point of order said some of the opposition MPs have been held back by the police who were on duty near the Jayanthipura Junction. Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardene also came up with the same allegation. Speaker Jayasuriya who responded said the police have opened the road one hour before the time the matter was raised by the MPs in the House.   

The Bill was later passed with 95 members voting for it and 31 against. Kurunegala District MP and Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s participation in the vote was a notable feature as he has been absent during the voting time of almost all Bills brought into the present Parliament.   


A division was called by the opposition for one amendment

 Approval of the Cabinet has been granted to amend the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, No.25 of 2002, for identifying the offences relating to Money Laundering and the necessity of criminalizing the offences related to bribery outlined in Article 16 of the Convention of the United Nations against Bribery and Corruption and the recent developments pertaining to computer systems and data related criminal offences, reflecting the international obligations of Sri Lanka in the present context.   

Another new feature in the amending Bill is that the Central Authority in Sri Lanka (the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice) can authorize any other officer not below the rank of a Senior Assistant Secretary, to act on his behalf of the Central Authority for the purpose of this Act. The Central Authority is given the power to designate competent authorities (which can be a law enforcement authority) who will process information to requests as directed by the Central Authority. The Central Authority is also enjoined to ensure prompt action in respect of all requests from abroad and to have a dedicated unit to maintain a proper system to manage incoming and outgoing requests. Requests can also be forwarded by electronic means directly to the relevant competent authority through the appropriate authority of a specified country or specified organization. Such competent authority is also given the power to immediately proceed to implement the request after forwarding a copy of the relevant request to the Central Authority.