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Bills on contempt of court, prison administration coming next year

Bills on contempt of court, prison administration coming next year

2012 Dec 08

The Justice Ministry will introduce several new Bills next year including a law relating to contempt of court and one on prison administration.

The Contempt of Court law is to be presented to the Cabinet shortly by Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem.
“We notice that there is a disparity when judges given contempt of court orders. The Law Commission has proposed a new Contempt of Court Act and I proposed to present it to the Cabinet very soon so that the disparity can be set aside and we can have a proper approach to the contempt of court law in Sri Lanka,” the Minister said when winding up the debate of the Justice Ministry in Parliament.

Among the laws under consideration is a Prisons Administration Bill which will provide for a new regime for the administration of prisons.

The draft Bill on prisons has been revised by a committee of experts appointed by the Minister of Justice and is to be submitted to the Cabinet shortly.

Another Bill that will come before Cabinet next year is the Child Protection Bill which will provide for contemporary realities relating to child protection and will repeal the antiquated Children and Young Persons Ordinance. It seeks to increase the collaboration between the Court, the Police and Probation and gives paramount consideration to the best interest of the child.

The Attorney General’s Department is reviewing the Obscene Publications Act. A section of it dealing with child pornography is to be introduced shortly.

The long delayed Bill that makes provision for providing assistance and protection to victims and witnesses may get final Parliamentary approval next year with certain new amendments made to it and submitted for approval of the Cabinet.

A Bill to amend the Notaries Act too has been submitted to the Cabinet. Due to the high prevalence of land frauds, it is sought to amend the Notaries Ordinance to provide bio-metric signature to deeds at the time of signing and also incorporates certain other provisions designed to prevent fraud.

Amendments to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act are being discussed at a Committee appointed by the Minister of Justice and are in the process of being drafted.

Other laws under discussions are an amendment to the Penal Code that seeks to give relief in cases where the girl and boy in statutory rape cases have been conducting consensual a sexual relationship, as well as an amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act to empower the Presidents of Labour Tribunals to enforce their awards. The provisions of the Bill have been objected to by certain trade unions. Discussions with trade unions are in progress.

Meanwhile, Minister Hakeem said that next year will see the introduction of “revolutionary” changes which will drastically reduce laws delays in the country.

This will include amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Code of Civil Procedure Acts to provide for the appointment of pre-trial judges. The amendments had been submitted to the Cabinet and are now before a Cabinet sub-committee, the Minister said.

“The issue of laws delays is a perennial matter. It cannot be resolved without the co-operation of the judiciary, lawyers and other stake holders,” he said.

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