Sri Lanka lawmakers approve bill expanding police power

[JURIST] The Sri Lankan Parliament [official website] on Tuesday voted 110-33 [press release] in favor of legislation extending the detention time for suspects arrested by police from 24 to 48 hours. Under the newly-amended law, titled, "Code of Criminal Procedure (Special Provisions) Bill," police may detain and question a person who has been arrested without a warrant for 48 hours [Colombo Page report] before producing the suspect in court. According to Cabinet Minister of Environment Anura Yapa, who also serves as a Member of Parliament, the legislation is meant to assist [AP report] in the fight against organized crime. However, many activists, including protesters demonstrating against the new law in the country's capital city of Colombo, see the extension of police power as a legalized means of suppressing dissident views amongst citizens.

The controversial new law comes on the heels of the impeachment and removal of Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake [JURIST news archive]. Last week Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile] signed the order to remove Bandaranayake from office after the parliament voted in an overwhelming majority favoring impeachment [JURIST reports]. Bandaranayake had been found guilty of three charges [JURIST report] of misconduct, including conflict of interest, failure to declare assets in official reports and bias in handling a case against her husband. Described by the UN [JURIST report] as a "calamitous setback for the rule of law in Sri Lanka," political shakeups throughout the country have proven to be a source of domestic and international criticism.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.