It applied only to specified Commonwealth countries and to other countries that had signed agreements with Sri Lanka to render mutual assistance in criminal matters. He said the purpose of the original law was to facilitate cooperation between Sri Lanka and specified foreign countries in locating and identifying witnesses or suspects, the service of documents on such persons, the examination of witnesses, the obtaining of evidence, execution of requests for search and seizure, temporarily transferring a person in custody to appear as a witness, facilitation of the personal appearance of witnesses, the location of the proceeds of any criminal activity, and enforcing orders for the freezing of property etc. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has slammed the Bill to amend mutual assistance in criminal matters.Rajapaksa said in a statement that the government has introduced in Parliament, a Bill to amend the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, No. 25 of 2002. The Bill to amend Act No: 25 of 2002 will repeal and replace entire sections of the original Act and substantially change its character.Rajapaksa says the proposed amendment will widen the applicability of the Act to every country that is a party to any international Convention that involves criminal matters. “Though the original Act applied only to states, the proposed amendment will make it applicable to international organisations such as the International Criminal Court as well. It will also make documentary evidence and evidence obtained through video conferencing from persons resident in foreign countries admissible in judicial proceedings. The administrative machinery to respond expeditiously to requests from overseas is also to be expanded,” he said.The former President said that the proposed legislation complements two previous laws introduced by the present Government – the Office of Missing Persons Act and the Act relating to the International Convention on Enforced Disappearances.Rajapaksa says the amendments proposed to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act of 2002 are clearly aimed at assisting foreign courts in the trial of Sri Lankans for offences allegedly committed in Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)
Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said all sectors must work together to respond to the tragedy of HIV/AIDS and its impact on humanitarian emergencies.Moderating the ECOSOC panel held yesterday, Ms. McAskie said of particular concern were populations torn by conflict, which had the capacity to further the spread of HIV/AIDS through violations of human rights, including rape and sexual abuse.Communities in complex emergencies were particularly vulnerable to communicable diseases due to displacement, overcrowding, malnutrition, poor water and lack of sanitation, said David Nabarro, Executive Director for Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments at the UN World Health Organization (WHO). He said national and local capacity to respond was reduced due to the breakdown of public health systems.Michel Sidibe, Director of the Country and Regional Support Department at the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said the interplay between the pandemic and emergency situations makes it paramount to bridge the artificial divide between humanitarian and development work. Of primary concern, is rebuilding the capacity of institutions weakened by AIDS – which means targeting highly affected communities – and integrating the disease into standard humanitarian assessment tool books.Jean-Jacques Graisse, Deputy Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said his agency was now devoting a sizeable amount of its attention to the relationship between food security and HIV/AIDS. The international community is witnessing a large-scale emergency fuelled by disease, such as in southern Africa crisis were a deadly convergence of HIV/AIDS, chronic poverty, poor policy environments and food shortages had left millions of people in need of urgent assistance.Massimo Barra, President of the European Red Cross Network on AIDS, said no organization could defeat AIDS on its own, nor would politically correct speeches and debates change the course of the epidemic. Instead, changes in the policy environment among the governments of affected and donor countries and a collaborative approach among implementing agencies were needed, he stressed.