With the lapsing of the state of emergency, the government has sought parliamentary approval to extend the period for holding a suspect in police custody from 24 hours under normal law to 48 hours before producing him or her before a magistrate.
In this regard regulations under the Criminal Procedures Code (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill will be presented in Parliament today. The Bill was made a law in 2007 as a temporary provision for two years on the grounds that police need more than 24-hours to complete investigations of arrested suspects. The provision also gives powers to the attorney general to serve direct indictments against suspects in cases of special relevance.
However, opposition political parties are expressing concern why the government intends to continue with this law for a further period of two years even in a situation where there is no need for emergency regulations either. Under the emergency regulations, suspects can be detained even for 180 days before being produced in a court of law.
JVP MP Ajith Kumara who is a lawyer by profession said this could be an attempt to suppress the rights of the government’s political opponents.
“We will oppose this Bill forthright. If the government is genuine in relaxing the state of emergency, what is the use of this new Bill,” he asked.
However, Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem said police need more than 24 hours to complete investigations into cases before filing a complete B report in a court of law, and that is why this bill has been introduced.
When asked about the attorney general’s power to serve direct indictments against suspects in cases of special relevance, he said the Bill would not in any way deny chances for a fair trial of any suspect.
‘A fair trial is always guaranteed under the Bill,” he said.
Mr. Hakeem said the lifting of emergency regulations had brought about normalcy though some elements who expected all ex LTTE cadres in custody to be released forthright were not happy.