Former head of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) lawyer Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa wants the government to provide facilities for video confessions which are admissible under terrorism regulated legislation.
The government has proposed bringing in a Counter-Terrorism Act (CTA) to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The Evidence (Special Provisions) Act, No. 14 of 1995, is an Act which provides for the admissibility of audio visual recordings in civil and criminal proceedings.
Mahanamahewa who is also a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Commercial Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo said that the question is whether the CTA which is to replace the PTA is softer or harder than the PTA.
The PTA allows confessions to be admissible and grants lengthy, prolonged detention periods under detention orders.
Convictions are obtained simply on the basis of confessions and sans any direct and circumstantial evidence.
“The CTA must address the issue of confessions, the recovery of weapons, long-term custody and the protection of fundamental rights”, Dr. Mahanamahewa noted.
“Why are we veering away from the Evidence Ordinance and its provisions with regard to the question of the admissibility of confessions? Why are offences existent in the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure also being listed in the draft CTA? Is it to grant a wider scope to the definition of terrorism and legalize offences which are not related to terrorism under a definition of terrorism? Why is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights being disregarded”, Dr. Mahanamahewa queried.