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* Two clauses of Reparations Bill not consistent with Constitution, Apex Court determines
Wed, Aug 8, 2018, 11:01 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 08, Colombo: The Supreme Court has determined that two Clauses of the Office for Reparations Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya informed the Parliament yesterday.

The Speaker informed the parliament that the Supreme Court in its ruling has ruled that the Clause 27(a) and 27 (a) iii of the bill are inconsistent with the Constitution.

The Bill was presented in Parliament for the first reading on July 17.

The three-judge Bench has determined that in terms of Article 123 (1) of the Constitution that clause 27 (a) and clause 27 (a) (iii) are inconsistent with Article 4 (c) and Article 3 of the Constitution and could only become law if it is passed two thirds majority in Parliament and a public referendum.

"However, if these clauses are amended as opined by this Court, the said inconsistency would cease and may be passed with a simple majority in Parliament," the Bench wrote in its decision.

The Bench suggested amending the clauses 27 (a) and 27 (a) (iii) as follows;

Clause 27 (a) is amended by removing the words "persons who have suffered a violation of human rights or humanitarian law (as contained in the First, Second; Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949) as applicable" and substituting in their place the words "persons who have suffered damage as result of loss of life or damage to their person or property".

Clause 27 (a) (iii) is amended by removing the words "in the course of systematic gross violations of the rights of" and substituting in their place the words "such damage being in the nature of prolonged and grave damage suffered by".

Two petitions have been filed by citizens invoking the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in terms of Article 121 to determine whether the Bill or any provision of the Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution.

The Supreme Court ruled that the other provisions in the bill for 'Office for Reparations' are not inconsistent with the Constitution and if the two clauses are amended it can be passed in parliament with a simple majority.

The scope of legislation applies to the conflict in the North and the East, as well as "any political unrest or civil disturbance, systematic gross violations of the rights of individuals, groups or communities of people of Sri Lanka, and enforced disappearances".

Under the "individual reparations", the bill facilitates any monetary payment or material benefit provided to an aggrieved person, micro-finance and concessionary loans, educational programs, training, and skills development programs, administrative assistance, and welfare services including psycho-social support provided to an aggrieved person, measures of restitution, including the provision of land and housing, and other appropriate measures identified by the Office for Reparations.

Under the "Collective reparations", the bills facilitates remembrance of deceased persons, including memorials, development of infrastructure, educational programs, training, and skills development programs, community development programs or services, and other appropriate programs as identified by the Office of Reparations in consultation with affected communities. The Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority Act, No. 29 of 1987 will be repealed by the new Bill.

 

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