‘Bribery laws not amended for 23 yrs’‘Bribery laws not amended for 23 yrs’

Petitions have been filed against the judicature (amendment) bill that was tabled before parliament on March 06. The bill aims to set up special three-member high courts to expedite cases into major financial crime and fraud.

What will be the impact of the bill on society’s aspirations to eliminate corruption, bribery and fraud? Will it give some hope that justice will be served? Lankanewsweb.net spoke to bribery commission’s director general, president’s counsel Sarath Jayamanna.

Court cases piled up

A dialogue on preventing bribery, corruption, fraud is pointless if there is no programme to ensure same. Will more cases be piled up in a country that ranks low in preventing bribery, corruption, fraud?

Why corruption cases are heard only by magistrate’s courts?

The word corruption was brought to attention in 1994. The legislature tasked the magistrate’s court with taking up corruption cases. For 23 years, that remains unchanged.

Ensuring independence of the judiciary

The judicature bill will not harm the judiciary’s independence, and will help hearing the cases in an organized manner.

Why the opposition by the Bar Assn.?

Foremost among the opponents is the Bar Association. Lawyers should be in the forefront of upholding justice. Public awareness is important on safeguarding their rights and ensuring justice.

No harm to the accused

The commission, not its director general, has the powers to name the three-member judges panel. The DG is an executive official and is without decision-making powers. The act will not affect rights of the accused.

Law not updated in 23 yrs.

There is a question of the country’s law not being updated. The bribery act, bribery commission act or the assets or liabilities act have not been amended. That is surprising. Most countries amend such laws every four to five years. Sri Lanka signed the relevant charter in 2004, but is yet to implement it. From 1994 to 2005 only four accused in corruption cases have been found guilty.

Most important is prevention

Investigation and prosecution alone cannot eliminate bribery, corruption. In Europe, there are no institutions to prevent corruption. But, those countries are not faced with corruption. They give priority to prevention.

Ashika Brahmana/Nishantha Priyadarshana

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