EU’s call to amend CPC: Justice Minister says no ad hoc measures | Sunday Observer

EU’s call to amend CPC: Justice Minister says no ad hoc measures

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has appointed a committee chaired by the Attorney General and members of the AG’s Department to look into proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), in accordance with a request made by the European Union, to reinstate the GSP Plus facility.

Although the committee has not been given a time period, the Minister told the Sunday Obsever that the reports will be carefully considered in making a decision since he was not in favor of amending the Criminal Procedure Code to appease the EU’s requests.

“They are asking to give suspects access to lawyers even while in police custody, I am concerned about the victims as this does not give the police space to conduct their investigation or for the victims to present their side,” Minister Rajapakshe said. “They (EU) have not understood the law because this amendment is contrary to our Evidence Ordinance.”

The Minister said that in the EU, statements made by the suspects are admissible in a court of law whereas in Sri Lanka it is inadmissible. He added that if such a concession was given to a suspect, the victims will not stand the chance for a fair trial. “People may lose faith in the judiciary and I am not willing to take the risk at the behest of having the GSP plus facility reinstated.”

The Minister added that two other requests from the EU was to amend the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act as well as to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). “We cannot make adhoc changes without consulting the Muslim community, as this will lead to an internal conflict. At the same time the PTA cannot be repealed without an appropriate law in place to safeguard national security.”

He added that such sensitive changes require careful consideration and cannot be rushed through for the sake of a trade facility as an internal unrest could have severe repercussions in the long term. “These reforms are needed, but they should be done at our pace in keeping with our laws, not on criteria’s stipulated by the EU.”

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