The South Asian Centre for Legal Studies was founded with the objective of advancing Transitional Justice and the global rule of law in Sri Lanka.

In the media

In the Media - April 2018

10 May 2018
In the Media - April 2018

Intially featured as part of the April 2018 TJ Bulletin, available here. ‘Right of reply: Why the GoSL Sponsored Resolution 30/1’ Daily Mirror on...

In the Media - March 2018

02 April 2018
In the Media - March 2018

Initially featured as part of the TJ Bulletin - March 2018, available here.   UPDATE: Flip-Flopping on Accountability – A Timeline’ Raisa Wi...

In the Media - February 2018

01 March 2018
In the Media - February 2018

Initially featured as part of the TJ Bulletin - February 2018, available here.   ‘Government Fast tracks OMP Operation Ahead of UNHRC Sessions’&n...

நிலைமாறுகால நீதியை நிலைநாட்டுவதிலுள்ள சவால்கள்

08 April 2017
நிலைமாறுகால நீதியை நிலைநாட்டுவதிலுள்ள சவால்கள்

2009 ஆம் ஆண்டு யுத்தம் முடிவடைந்ததையடுத்து, யுத்தகாலத்தில் இடம்பெற்ற விடயங்கள் சம்பந்தமாக வகைப்பொறுப்பு கூறுவதற்கும் அத்துடன் நல்லிணக்கத்தை தோற்றுவிப்...

FORGETTING THE PAST: A WARNING

23 March 2017
FORGETTING THE PAST: A WARNING

On March 24th, human rights activists and victims’ groups worldwide will commemorate International Day for the Dignity of Victims, in honour of victim...

AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN WITNESS PROTE...

17 March 2017
AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN WITNESS PROTECTION ACTIVITIES: PART III

Organisational structures for witness protection Structurally, witness protection programmes could exist in a number of different forms. Countries oft...

OPERATIONAL MODELS FOR VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTI...

16 March 2017
OPERATIONAL MODELS FOR VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION WITHIN TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE: PART II

The previous article in this serial titled Contextualising Victim and Witness Protection for Transitional Justice discussed three key considerations w...

CONTEXTUALIZING VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION FOR...

14 March 2017
CONTEXTUALIZING VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION FOR TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE - PART I

Introduction Since the end of the war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been pushed to address issues relating to wartime accountability and reconciliation withi...

The problem with ‘justice as reconciliation’

22 February 2017
The problem with ‘justice as reconciliation’

Unless we evolve substantive way to talk about justice for atrocity crimes, the emotive aspects of the debate will continue to take precedence with ve...

உண்மையை கண்டறியும் ஆணைக்குழு: அரசாங்கம் முதன்மைப்ப...

18 February 2017
உண்மையை கண்டறியும் ஆணைக்குழு: அரசாங்கம் முதன்மைப்படுத்துவது நீதியை மறுப்பதற்காகவா?

ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மனித உரிமைகள் பேரவையின் அமர்விற்கு இன்னமும் ஒரு மாதகாலத்திற்கு சற்றே அதிகமான காலப்பகுதியே இருக்கின்றது. இந்த அமர்வில் ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மன...

நீதி இல்லாமல் நிலைமாறுகால நீதியா?

18 January 2017
நீதி இல்லாமல் நிலைமாறுகால நீதியா?

இலங்கை, நல்லாட்சி ​அரசாங்கத்தின் இரண்டாவது வருடத்தை கடந்துள்ள இத்தருணத்தில் மனிதர்களுக்கெதிரான அட்டூழியங்கள் நிறைந்த குற்றச்செயல்கள் சார்ந்ததாக வகைபொற...

Incorporating International Crimes into Sri Lankan...

22 September 2016
Incorporating International Crimes into Sri Lankan Law: The Need for Legislative Reform

 In a paper published recently, Eleanor Vermunt and I argued that international crimes must be incorporated into Sri Lankan law with retroactive...

« »

In the media

In the Media - April 2018

10 May 2018
In the Media - April 2018

Intially featured as part of the April 2018 TJ Bulletin, available here. ‘Right of reply: Why the GoSL Sponsored Resolution 30/1’ Daily Mirror on...

In the Media - March 2018

02 April 2018
In the Media - March 2018

Initially featured as part of the TJ Bulletin - March 2018, available here.   UPDATE: Flip-Flopping on Accountability – A Timeline’ Raisa Wi...

In the Media - February 2018

01 March 2018
In the Media - February 2018

Initially featured as part of the TJ Bulletin - February 2018, available here.   ‘Government Fast tracks OMP Operation Ahead of UNHRC Sessions’&n...

நிலைமாறுகால நீதியை நிலைநாட்டுவதிலுள்ள சவால்கள்

08 April 2017
நிலைமாறுகால நீதியை நிலைநாட்டுவதிலுள்ள சவால்கள்

2009 ஆம் ஆண்டு யுத்தம் முடிவடைந்ததையடுத்து, யுத்தகாலத்தில் இடம்பெற்ற விடயங்கள் சம்பந்தமாக வகைப்பொறுப்பு கூறுவதற்கும் அத்துடன் நல்லிணக்கத்தை தோற்றுவிப்...

FORGETTING THE PAST: A WARNING

23 March 2017
FORGETTING THE PAST: A WARNING

On March 24th, human rights activists and victims’ groups worldwide will commemorate International Day for the Dignity of Victims, in honour of victim...

AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN WITNESS PROTE...

17 March 2017
AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN WITNESS PROTECTION ACTIVITIES: PART III

Organisational structures for witness protection Structurally, witness protection programmes could exist in a number of different forms. Countries oft...

OPERATIONAL MODELS FOR VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTI...

16 March 2017
OPERATIONAL MODELS FOR VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION WITHIN TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE: PART II

The previous article in this serial titled Contextualising Victim and Witness Protection for Transitional Justice discussed three key considerations w...

CONTEXTUALIZING VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION FOR...

14 March 2017
CONTEXTUALIZING VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION FOR TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE - PART I

Introduction Since the end of the war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been pushed to address issues relating to wartime accountability and reconciliation withi...

The problem with ‘justice as reconciliation’

22 February 2017
The problem with ‘justice as reconciliation’

Unless we evolve substantive way to talk about justice for atrocity crimes, the emotive aspects of the debate will continue to take precedence with ve...

உண்மையை கண்டறியும் ஆணைக்குழு: அரசாங்கம் முதன்மைப்ப...

18 February 2017
உண்மையை கண்டறியும் ஆணைக்குழு: அரசாங்கம் முதன்மைப்படுத்துவது நீதியை மறுப்பதற்காகவா?

ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மனித உரிமைகள் பேரவையின் அமர்விற்கு இன்னமும் ஒரு மாதகாலத்திற்கு சற்றே அதிகமான காலப்பகுதியே இருக்கின்றது. இந்த அமர்வில் ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மன...

நீதி இல்லாமல் நிலைமாறுகால நீதியா?

18 January 2017
நீதி இல்லாமல் நிலைமாறுகால நீதியா?

இலங்கை, நல்லாட்சி ​அரசாங்கத்தின் இரண்டாவது வருடத்தை கடந்துள்ள இத்தருணத்தில் மனிதர்களுக்கெதிரான அட்டூழியங்கள் நிறைந்த குற்றச்செயல்கள் சார்ந்ததாக வகைபொற...

Incorporating International Crimes into Sri Lankan...

22 September 2016
Incorporating International Crimes into Sri Lankan Law: The Need for Legislative Reform

 In a paper published recently, Eleanor Vermunt and I argued that international crimes must be incorporated into Sri Lankan law with retroactive...

« »

In the media

In the Media - April 2018

10 May 2018
In the Media - April 2018

Intially featured as part of the April 2018 TJ Bulletin, available here. ‘Right of reply: Why the GoSL Sponsored Resolution 30/1’ Daily Mirror on...

In the Media - March 2018

02 April 2018
In the Media - March 2018

Initially featured as part of the TJ Bulletin - March 2018, available here.   UPDATE: Flip-Flopping on Accountability – A Timeline’ Raisa Wi...

In the Media - February 2018

01 March 2018
In the Media - February 2018

Initially featured as part of the TJ Bulletin - February 2018, available here.   ‘Government Fast tracks OMP Operation Ahead of UNHRC Sessions’&n...

நிலைமாறுகால நீதியை நிலைநாட்டுவதிலுள்ள சவால்கள்

08 April 2017
நிலைமாறுகால நீதியை நிலைநாட்டுவதிலுள்ள சவால்கள்

2009 ஆம் ஆண்டு யுத்தம் முடிவடைந்ததையடுத்து, யுத்தகாலத்தில் இடம்பெற்ற விடயங்கள் சம்பந்தமாக வகைப்பொறுப்பு கூறுவதற்கும் அத்துடன் நல்லிணக்கத்தை தோற்றுவிப்...

FORGETTING THE PAST: A WARNING

23 March 2017
FORGETTING THE PAST: A WARNING

On March 24th, human rights activists and victims’ groups worldwide will commemorate International Day for the Dignity of Victims, in honour of victim...

AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN WITNESS PROTE...

17 March 2017
AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN WITNESS PROTECTION ACTIVITIES: PART III

Organisational structures for witness protection Structurally, witness protection programmes could exist in a number of different forms. Countries oft...

OPERATIONAL MODELS FOR VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTI...

16 March 2017
OPERATIONAL MODELS FOR VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION WITHIN TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE: PART II

The previous article in this serial titled Contextualising Victim and Witness Protection for Transitional Justice discussed three key considerations w...

CONTEXTUALIZING VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION FOR...

14 March 2017
CONTEXTUALIZING VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION FOR TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE - PART I

Introduction Since the end of the war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been pushed to address issues relating to wartime accountability and reconciliation withi...

The problem with ‘justice as reconciliation’

22 February 2017
The problem with ‘justice as reconciliation’

Unless we evolve substantive way to talk about justice for atrocity crimes, the emotive aspects of the debate will continue to take precedence with ve...

உண்மையை கண்டறியும் ஆணைக்குழு: அரசாங்கம் முதன்மைப்ப...

18 February 2017
உண்மையை கண்டறியும் ஆணைக்குழு: அரசாங்கம் முதன்மைப்படுத்துவது நீதியை மறுப்பதற்காகவா?

ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மனித உரிமைகள் பேரவையின் அமர்விற்கு இன்னமும் ஒரு மாதகாலத்திற்கு சற்றே அதிகமான காலப்பகுதியே இருக்கின்றது. இந்த அமர்வில் ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மன...

நீதி இல்லாமல் நிலைமாறுகால நீதியா?

18 January 2017
நீதி இல்லாமல் நிலைமாறுகால நீதியா?

இலங்கை, நல்லாட்சி ​அரசாங்கத்தின் இரண்டாவது வருடத்தை கடந்துள்ள இத்தருணத்தில் மனிதர்களுக்கெதிரான அட்டூழியங்கள் நிறைந்த குற்றச்செயல்கள் சார்ந்ததாக வகைபொற...

Incorporating International Crimes into Sri Lankan...

22 September 2016
Incorporating International Crimes into Sri Lankan Law: The Need for Legislative Reform

 In a paper published recently, Eleanor Vermunt and I argued that international crimes must be incorporated into Sri Lankan law with retroactive...

« »
In the Media

The report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Working Group’) on its visit to Sri Lanka from the 4th to the 15th of December 2017 was presented at the 39th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the 12th of September 2018. Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the UN also responded to the Working Group’s report at the time of its presentation. Of particular relevance to the Transitional Justice process in Sri Lanka are the findings, conclusions and recommendations made by the Working Group with respect to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). These recommendations are timely given that Sri Lanka in September gazetted its proposed new counterterrorism legislation (CTA).

The Working Group observes that the admissibility of confessions under the PTA regime is especially problematic as suspects face an uphill battle at the trial to prove that a confession has been obtained under duress. At the ‘voir dire’ inquiry (an inquiry to determine whether a confession has been made voluntarily or not) the prosecution is initially required to prove − on a balance of probabilities − that a confession has been obtained freely. If the prosecution is successful, the burden thereafter shifts to the suspect to prove – beyond reasonable doubt − that the confession had been extracted under duress. The Working Group notes that the excessively long period of pre-trial detention coupled with the lack of medical intervention during detention makes it nearly impossible for a suspect at a trial to prove that a confession was given under duress. Section 80 of the Counter Terrorism Bill addresses some of these concerns by only admitting confessions to a Magistrate under strict conditions including that the person was examined by a government forensic medical specialist immediately prior to or soon after the recording of confessions, and that the report is produced before the prosecution at the ‘voir dire’ inquiry. The burden of proving that the confession was voluntarily made was also shifted under the CTA and lie with the prosecuting authority. These changes must be welcomed and proposals to retain admissibility of confessions obtained during administrative detention must be resisted.

The CTA Bill includes other changes doing away with the more draconian provisions of the PTA including the reduction of detention without judicial supervision from 72 to 48 hours. It also provides for increased monitoring and supervision by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. The Magistrate is also mandated to play a more active role in supervising the conditions of detention and is required to visit the suspect in detention without prior notice and to direct a medical examination in case of suspicion or allegation of torture. However, there remains important concerns with the Bill.

In particular the Deputy Inspector General of Police is given unilateral power to issue Detention Orders and Magistrates shall give effect to such orders. A possibility of appeal is only provided before a Board of Review effectively removing detention orders from judicial review for an initial period of two weeks after which the Magistrate’ authorization is required for an extension of the detention order. Further, the Bill allows for the security forces and coastguards to arrest suspects without warrants. This effectively prevents access to a lawyer in the initial 24 hours after which the suspect must be handed over to the Police. This initial period may be much longer if the arrest is made aboard an aircraft/ vessel or outside Sri Lankan territory. This creates an increased risk of torture. While the CTA Bill seems to have addressed some of the concerns made by the Working Group, the concerns expressed above are of significance.

Published in Blog