Jan 22, Colombo: Opposition political parties in the Sri Lankan parliament are to vote against the proposed Code of Criminal Procedure (Special Provisions) Bill that is to be taken up in parliament today.
The proposed Bill presented to the parliament on October 11 last year by the Justice Minister would enable the police to detain a person who has been arrested without a warrant for 48 hours without producing the suspect before a magistrate.
Under the current law, a person arrested by the police without a warrant has to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.
The main opposition United National Party (UNP) and the Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will vote against the bill.
The UNP has said the party would oppose the Bill since it would provide more powers to the police.
Chief Opposition Whip, John Amaratunga has said that the independent police commission that was set up under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was abolished under the 18th Amendment.
Therefore he has observed that the police did not function independently and the proposed legislation would allow the police to mistreat suspects taken into custody.
Meanwhile, JVP Propaganda Secretary, parliamentarian Vijitha Herath has said that the police force is being manipulated by politicians and the proposed law giving more powers to the police therefore, would affect the democratic system.
He has added that the new bill empowers the Attorney General to file cases directly against the people in a High Court, over any public unrest, and warned that the abolition of the independent commissions under the 18th Amendment would lead to anarchy and pave the way towards a dictatorship.
Lawyers for Democracy (LfD), a lawyers' group in Sri Lanka, has also condemned the government's attempt to pass the Bill in Parliament.
The government says extending the detention period to 48 hours after arrest will facilitate the investigation process.
Following a fundamental rights petition filed against the legislation before the Supreme Court last year, the court has held that Clause 8 of the Bill was inconsistent with the Article 13(2) of Constitution and should be approved by a two-third majority.