Con­fes­sions no longer ad­mis­si­ble at trial: Sam­pan­than

Says if the new counter ter­ror­ism Law ac­cepts that po­si­tion, then the Govt. ac­cepts the po­si­tion that there can be no con­vic­tion, based on con­fes­sions

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - FRONT PAGE -

Op­po­si­tion Leader R. Sam­pan­than said con­fes­sions would no longer be ad­mis­si­ble at the trial of a per­son charged with an of­fence un­der the new Counter Ter­ror­ism law and the same po­si­tion should be ap­plied to those al­ready charged based on con­fes­sions.

He said if the new counter ter­ror­ism Law ac­cepts that po­si­tion, then the Govern­ment is ob­vi­ously ac­cept­ing the po­si­tion that there can be no con­vic­tion, not even a charge based upon the con­fes­sion.

Mr. Sam­pan­than said this in Par­lia­ment on Thurs­day.

“If that be so, the per­sons in cus­tody, even per­sons who have been convicted, must be dealt with on the ba­sis that they have been convicted on the con­fes­sion which was the only avail­able ev­i­dence, there be­ing no other ev­i­dence against them, which the Govern­ment ac­cepts now as a mat­ter of pol­icy is in­ad­mis­si­ble, is in­valid, is some­thing that which Govern­ment pol­icy would not per­mit to ac­cept and is not in keep­ing with in­ter­na­tional norms. If that be the po­si­tion Sir, I would ap­peal to the Govern­ment to take steps for the re­lease of all these per­sons who are in cus­tody based purely on their con­fes­sion. Whether they have been convicted or charged and not convicted does not mat­ter, but if the only ev­i­dence against them is a con­fes­sion, then I would sub­mit that they must be re­leased and the Of­fice for Repa­ra­tions can play a role, in my view, should play a role, in as­cer­tain­ing the truth in re­gard to this mat­ter and tak­ing steps with the Govern­ment to have these per­sons re­leased,” he said.

Mr. Sam­pan­than said the per­sons han­dling the Of­fice of Miss­ing Per­sons, were do­ing their very best to be as ef­fec­tive as they can and we are grate­ful for that.

“I would like to make a few com­ments in re­gard to this mat­ter be­cause the as­cer­tain­ment of truth, the de­liv­ery of jus­tice, the is­sue of ac­count­abil­ity, repa­ra­tions and non-re­cur­rence are all fun­da­men­tal com­po­nents of the tran­si­tional jus­tice process; process to bring about rec­on­cil­i­a­tion on the ba­sis of truth, jus­tice and ac­count­abil­ity in the coun­try which has gone through sev­eral decades of armed con­flict. This Bill is a very wel­come fea­ture, Sir, but it must not be used to side­line truth and jus­tice. Truth and jus­tice must al­ways pre­vail. Even the is­sue of miss­ing per­sons or the is­sue of repa­ra­tions must be dealt with on the ba­sis of truth and jus­tice. The Of­fice on Repa­ra­tions should be able to for­mu­late poli­cies based upon truth and to en­sure jus­tice to all vic­tims. That is fun­da­men­tal.

“I find cer­tain pro­vi­sions in the Bill which will en­able the Govern­ment to play a role in re­gard to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of what­ever poli­cies are for­mu­lated by the Of­fice for Repa­ra­tions. This must not be a mat­ter that comes un­der the con­trol of the Govern­ment, Sir. The Of­fice for Repa­ra­tions must have the free­dom to act in­de­pen­dently in this mat­ter to for­mu­late the re­quired poli­cies and be able to find av­enues to of­fer repa­ra­tion to per­sons who have been vic­tim­ized. Youth have been vic­tim­ized in a very large man­ner. What are the repa­ra­tions that can be given? They must be em­pow­ered to ac­quire skills that will en­able them to carry on their life in the fu­ture in­de­pen­dently and as best as they can. There will be repa­ra­tion that must be given to youth. Peo­ple need to be eco­nom­i­cally em­pow­ered. Peo­ple have been im­pov­er­ished as a re­sult of the war. There needs to be eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment to the peo­ple to en­able them to lead their life with­out de­pri­va­tion or de­nial,” he said.

If that be the po­si­tion, I will ap­peal to the Govern­ment to take steps for the re­lease of all these per­sons who are in cus­tody based purely on their con­fes­sion

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