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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Several clauses of Sri Lanka anti-corruption bill inconsistent with constitution: SC

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has determined that several clauses in a recently drafted anti-corruption bill are inconsistent with the constitution.

Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announcing the court verdict told parliament on Tuesday June 06 that the following clauses of the Anti-Corruption Bill gazetted on April 03 are inconsistent with the constitution: 1, 2(1)(f), 2(2), 3(2), 4(1)(a), 4(1)(b), 4(3), 17(1), 21, 31(2), 163(2)(h), 40, 48(3), 49(1)(f), 51(a), 53(1), 62(1), 65, 67(5), 71(6), 80, 93, 99, 101, 112, 149 and 162.

The bill was challenged in terms of Article 121(1) of the constitution.

However, the inconsistencies flagged by the court will seize if the amendments as set out in the verdict are made to the bill, the speaker said citing the determination.

Amendments to clauses 83(3), 136, 141, 142 and 156 of the bill as set out in the determination will be made to address several concerns raised by the petitioners, the court was informed.

Notably, Section 119 of the bill which has proved controversial was not flagged by the Supreme Court as been inconsistent with the constitution.


Sri Lanka’s new anti-corruption bill sparks debate over false allegations clause

Sri Lanka gazetted a new anti-corruption in early April bill after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 2.9 billion US dollar loan which required the crisis-hit nation to address corruption vulnerabilities.

Among the objectives of the proposed act are to prevent and eradicate bribery and corruption in order to meet the just requirements of the general welfare of a democratic society, enhance transparency in governance, strengthen integrity of governance and increase accountability, enhance public confidence in government and strengthen public participation to eradicate corruption.

The act also envisions establishing an Independent Commission to exercise and perform the powers and functions under the Act and to carry out the responsibilities imposed. The said commission will be mandated to conduct preliminary inquiries and investigations into, and to prosecute against, bribery, corruption, offences relating to declaration of assets and liabilities and associated offences.

The draft bill, if enacted, will enable the authorities to conduct and coordinate educational activities on the prevention of bribery and corruption, introduce an effective system for the declaration of assets and liabilities in order to prevent illicit enrichment by public officials, promote inter-agency cooperation and international collaboration in preventing bribery and corruption, and give effect to obligations under the United Nations Convention against corruption and any other International Convention relating to the prevention of corruption to which Sri Lanka is a party and recognise international standards and best practices in order to establish a culture of integrity in Sri Lanka.

In the lead up to its board approval of the loan, the IMF had urged Sri Lanka to reduce corruption vulnerabilities through improved fiscal transparency and public financial management, introducing a stronger anti-corruption legal framework, and conducting an in-depth governance diagnostic, supported by IMF technical assistance.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on April 02 that Sri Lanka will enact key points of its agreement with the IMF  into law upon parliamentary approval, one of which would be new anti-corruption legislation which he said would likely be enacted in May. (Colombo/Jun06/2023)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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