‘Amendment to Mutual Legal Assistance targets corruption’ | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

‘Amendment to Mutual Legal Assistance targets corruption’

Human Rights Lawyer and activist J C Weliamuna said the amendment to the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) legislation target money laundering, cyber crime, corruption and drug networks countering JO claims that the amendments would pave the way for a manhunt against ‘war heroes’.

He told the Sunday Observer that the amendment does not grapple with war crimes or assisting prosecutions with regard to human rights violations.

“The existing MLA provisions do not empower the law enforcement to properly use information available from other countries because we don’t have enabling domestic legislation to make use of the international conventions the country is signatory to,” Weliamuna explained. The MLA was listed in the order paper in order to be taken up in parliament. However, it had to be taken out as there were petitions filed against the amendments to the Bill. “They are talking about evidence on alleged war crimes coming into the country through this although it is the opposite of that is happening with regards to the prosecution. What they are really afraid has nothing to do with war crimes but everything to do with evidence relating to corruption reaching the country,” an official of the Attorney General’s Department told the Sunday Observer. Today, Sri Lanka has become a money-laundering centre and a centre for the drugs network because domestically our laws are not strong enough to charge offenders even though they may be in violation of international conventions.” said Weliamuna.

Amendments will give effect to the UN Convention on Corruption and the Money Laundering Convention.

Countering statements made by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa claims that the legislation is merely a witch hunt against the military forces based on grave human rights violations. “Though the original Act applied only to states, the proposed amendment will make it applicable to international organisations such as the International Criminal Court as well. It will also make documentary evidence and evidence obtained through video conferencing from persons resident in foreign countries admissible in judicial proceedings. The administrative machinery to respond expeditiously to requests from overseas is also to be expanded,” Rajapaksa said.