Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan said confessions would no longer be admissible at the trial of a person charged with an offence under the new Counter Terrorism law and the same position should be applied to those already charged based on confessions.
He said if the new counter terrorism Law accepts that position, then the Government is obviously accepting the position that there can be no conviction, not even a charge based upon the confession.
Mr. Sampanthan said this in Parliament on Thursday.
“If that be so, the persons in custody, even persons who have been convicted, must be dealt with on the basis that they have been convicted on the confession which was the only available evidence, there being no other evidence against them, which the Government accepts now as a matter of policy is inadmissible, is invalid, is something that which Government policy would not permit to accept and is not in keeping with international norms. If that be the position Sir, I would appeal to the Government to take steps for the release of all these persons who are in custody based purely on their confession. Whether they have been convicted or charged and not convicted does not matter, but if the only evidence against them is a confession, then I would submit that they must be released and the Office for Reparations can play a role, in my view, should play a role, in ascertaining the truth in regard to this matter and taking steps with the Government to have these persons released,” he said.
Mr. Sampanthan said the persons handling the Office of Missing Persons, were doing their very best to be as effective as they can and we are grateful for that.
“I would like to make a few comments in regard to this matter because the ascertainment of truth, the delivery of justice, the issue of accountability, reparations and non-recurrence are all fundamental components of the transitional justice process; process to bring about reconciliation on the basis of truth, justice and accountability in the country which has gone through several decades of armed conflict. This Bill is a very welcome feature, Sir, but it must not be used to sideline truth and justice. Truth and justice must always prevail. Even the issue of missing persons or the issue of reparations must be dealt with on the basis of truth and justice. The Office on Reparations should be able to formulate policies based upon truth and to ensure justice to all victims. That is fundamental.
“I find certain provisions in the Bill which will enable the Government to play a role in regard to the implementation of whatever policies are formulated by the Office for Reparations. This must not be a matter that comes under the control of the Government, Sir. The Office for Reparations must have the freedom to act independently in this matter to formulate the required policies and be able to find avenues to offer reparation to persons who have been victimized. Youth have been victimized in a very large manner. What are the reparations that can be given? They must be empowered to acquire skills that will enable them to carry on their life in the future independently and as best as they can. There will be reparation that must be given to youth. People need to be economically empowered. People have been impoverished as a result of the war. There needs to be economic empowerment to the people to enable them to lead their life without deprivation or denial,” he said. (Yohan Perera)