Mutual Assistance Bill passed amidst disturbances

By Saman Indrajith

The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday amidst protests by the Joint Opposition (JO) members.

Following a division called by NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa, the Bill was passed with a majority of 64 votes, receiving 95 votes in favour and 31 against. A total of 97 members were absent. UPFA MP Douglas Devananda abstained from voting while JVP MPs were absent.  

The TNA voted in favour along with the SLFP and UNP members in the Government, whereas the JO and ‘SLFP Group of 16’ members in the Opposition voted against.

The Bill aims to broaden the legal provisions for combating transnational crimes in keeping with the modern technology of the world. Parliament took up a full day debate on the legislation on Tuesday but its passage was put off as the JO refused to extend the time of the House to conclude the debate.

When the Bill was taken up again yesterday, the JO asked for division twice in an attempt to sabotage its passage. However, the bill was passed with a comfortable majority . Justice Minister Thalatha Atukorale presented further amendments to the Bill at the third reading in line with the Supreme Court determination.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa voted against the bill.

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