The new Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission that will be formed very soon has full power bestowed on them to investigate if there were any wrong decisions
given or withdrawn the cases prematurely by the existing Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission, Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakshe said.
Minister Rajapakshe, made these comments at a press conference held at the Justice Ministry Auditorium yesterday (07) to inform the public about the new Anti-Corruption Bill.
Commenting at the meeting, the Justice Minister also stated: From September 15, 2023, the new Anti-Corruption Bill is operational and the necessary gazette is already published. There is an opinion among the public that the functioning of the current Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission is not independent and there are reasonable reasons for that. The current Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission established in 1994 was operational for 29 years but bribery and corruption did not disappear from Sri Lanka, which is why the Government worked to pass a new Anti-Corruption Bill.
Until now, the bribery law only applied to the public sector and politicians. But through the new law, corruption in the private sector can be investigated. Complaints related to sexual bribery can be investigated and if the illegally earned wealth has been deposited in foreign countries, the power to reacquire it is also under this new act for which the World Bank has given necessary authority to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. After holding discussions with the higher officials of the UNODC, they have agreed to provide required support to recover funds invested as assets illegally in foreign countries.
The composition of the new Bribery and Corruption Investigation Commission has been changed and requirements for recruitment have been presented. The law alone is not enough to eliminate bribery or corruption. The support of the general public and media organisations is absolutely essential. If corruption is eliminated in this country, some political parties will not survive. All politicians were criticised due to the inefficiency of the existing Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission and those who work against corruption also got scolded in general.
No matter what the existing Bribery Commission does, it cannot investigate its affairs due to the independence given to it. But under the new law, the effectiveness of the officers of the Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission should be reported to the Parliament once in four months, the Minister further stated.
Answering the questions raised by the media, the Minister of Justice also stated: When the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is about to be presented, various reports and videos are presented against our country. Diaspora does different things to suit their agendas from time to time. We discussed with the Diaspora leaders about their problems. A statement was made by me in Parliament about this, 29 months before the Easter attack. At that time, the former government spokesperson and others accused me alleging that I made this statement to destroy national unity.
Today, some people who are in the Opposition are speaking with great enthusiasm. When I made that statement at that time there were those who speak and shout today in the then Cabinet and Government. People like MP Mujibur Rahman accused me saying not to make this country into a lake of blood. But after 29 months, everyone’s eyes were opened.
If they had looked into my statement back then, those people who died from the Easter Attack would still be alive today. It was declared that there is a mastermind behind the Easter attack. Former Attorney General Dappula de Livera said that there is a mastermind behind the Easter attack on the day of his retirement. He should have looked into this statement in his time without saying it on the day of his retirement. But when he was approached to get a statement about this, he got Court orders preventing statements from him.
There are currently 42 cases about the Easter Attack. As a Government, we are ready to conduct an international investigation about this Easter bombing attack. Those who are calling for international investigations today were in the government at the time of the Easter attack. Channel 4 is a media organisation dealing with the Diaspora. Channel 4 is not an organisation that wants justice for the people who died in the Easter attack. If there is an incident that Channel 4 broadcasts, it will be investigated. We will conduct a full investigation on this matter.
Minister Rajapakshe further said that he has informed the Speaker in writing that the Anti-Corruption Bill will come into effect from September 15. He said that the Speaker has been informed to arrange and appoint suitable persons as members of the new Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission under the new Anti-Corruption Bill laws and in accordance with the 21st Constitutional Amendment. After the new Anti-Corruption Bill comes into force from September 15, the President will appoint new Commissioners and Director General for the new Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission with the approval of the Constitutional Council, and the criteria for their recruitment will be prepared by the Constitutional Council, the Minister concluded.
Justice and Prison Affairs State Minister Anuradha Jayaratne and former Director General of the Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission, President’s Counsel, Sarath Jayamanna also expressed their views at the meeting.