Statement by Justice W.L.R.Silva, Commissioner, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption - Leader of Sri Lanka Delegation ( 1st Intervention at 3rd September 2018)

intervention 1Madam Chair,

Thank you for this great opportunity given to Sri Lanka to make this intervention
I reiterate our commitment to eradicate bribery and corruption. Being present here today we have shown our solidarity towards the fulfillment of that obligation spelt out in the UNCAC.
With overwhelming pride I inform this august assembly that Sri Lanka hosted the Global Expert Group Meeting on anti-corruption, which was held in Colombo from 25 to 27 of July 2018. This meeting brought together over 40 experts from 30 countries to develop the Commentary on the Jakarta Principles for Anti-Corruption Agencies and to discuss guidelines on how to promote and strengthen the independence and effectiveness of anti-corruption authorities" in accordance with articles 6 and 36 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). This is ample testimony that the Commission to investigate Allegation of Bribery or Corruption of Sri Lanka has been duly recognized by the UNODC as a fast growing anti-corruption agency, Further I take this opportunity to thank UNODC for selecting My beautiful motherland Sri Lanka to host that event. In addition to that, I would also like to thank all the Experts participated in that event, which made the event a great success.
Madam President, first of all I would like to express our views on the 1st Implementation Review Cycle of the UNCAC.
During the first review cycle from 2009- 2015, Sri Lanka was reviewed by China and Papua New Guinea on the implementation of Chapter iii that is “Criminalization and Law Enforcement” and Chapter iv that is “International Cooperation” in UNCAC. The country visit was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 3-5 July 2013.
Addition to that, UNCAC follow up review meeting was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 30th June to 1st July 2016. Executive Summary and the first cycle Country Review Report of Sri Lanka is available in the UNODC website.

Consequent to the first review, on the recommendations made, we adopted several significant measures to comply with the relevant Articles of the UNCAC. Out of those measures the most significant measures is the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Article 156A of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution gives the constitutional recognition to the UNCAC. The new Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption established under this amendment is highly progressive, in that the Commissioners are empowered, individually to launch investigations on their own motion without any communication or complaint. Consequent to the first review recommendations other significant changes were brought in to the Laws of witness protection and Right to information. Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, No. 4 of 2015 enacted on March 2015 and The Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016 enacted on August 2016 inter alia are a few measures taken to implement such recommendations. These acts facilitate and promote a society in which the people of Sri Lanka would be able to meaningfully participate in public life whilst combating corruption, promoting accountability and good governance.”
Secondly I would like to share our experience on the 2nd Review Cycle of the UNCAC implementation.
Sri Lanka voluntary agreed to be reviewed in the first year of the second cycle from among the 29 countries. Accordingly, a comprehensive self-assessment check list of Sri Lanka was prepared consulting relevant stakeholders. On 16th December 2016, Sri Lanka submitted it’s self-assessment check list to the UNODC secretariat and Sri Lanka was reviewed by Palau and Brunei Darussalam on the implementation of Chapter ii - :Preventive measurers” and Chapter v “Asset Recovery” and the country visit in this regard was held and concluded in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 29-31 March 2017.
We take this opportunity to thank the States of Palau and Brunei Darussalam for the support and cooperation extended to Sri Lanka. Further I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to UNODC Secretariat for guiding and assisting us throughout the 2nd review cycle.
Whilst Sri Lanka being reviewed, Sri Lanka in turn took part in reviewing Botswana in respect of the first year of the second cycle. The desk review on that was completed by Sri Lanka on 26 May 2017. During May 2018 a country visit on the implementation of the second cycle on Botswana was carried out. It turned out to be a great experience to review another country whilst being reviewed by other countries.
Madam Chair, Now allow me to highlight the Laws pertaining to bribery and corruption, amended recently. After completing a study, proposals were made to the Cabinet of Ministers through His Excellency the President to amend the laws. Accordingly the Cabinet of Ministers has approved the amendments and directions were given to the Legal Draftsman to draft the relevant laws. Several rounds of discussions were held with the Legal Draftsman and the stakeholders in order to facilitate the drafting. Bribery act was amended and will be amended considering all the suggestions highlighted at various forums. The following are some of the other issues that are being considered as urgent; Private Sector Bribery, Joint investigations with other agencies, Gift rules, Conflict of interest rules, Permission to seek AG’s legal opinion, Whistle blower protection provision, declaration of assets etc. Some of these amendments are now before the Parliament at bill stage.

Considering the urgency and the immediate requirements very Significant changes were brought to the Bribery Act by Act No 22 of 2018 which was certified on 30 th July 2018. By this amendment corruption cases can now be filed in the High Court as well whereas according to the previous provisions of law, corruption cases, even cases involving billions of rupees, could only be filed in the Magistrate Courts. Thus an anomalous situation has now been remedied.
Madam Chair, as a result of the joint campaign of the Parliament Oversight Committee on Corruption, the Attorney General’s Department, CIABOC and Ministry of Justice, Sri Lanka brought in a major Legal amendment to our Judicature Act. The new amendment creates a new jurisdiction by making provisions to set up a permanent Trial-at-Bar comprising of three high court judges to be named by the Chief Justice on the application of the Director General of CIABOC, on the directions of the commission to hear serious financial crimes and corruption cases on a day to day basis. Several such High courts could be designated as and when the need arises according to the exigencies.

In addition to the above the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, No. 25 of 2002 was amended on August 08, 2018 widening its scope of application on MLA requests.

Further more, we are looking forward to introducing amendments to the Commission of Inquiry Act. These amendments will bring major changes to the productive investigation into financial crimes and corruption cases. At present, CIABOC has no power to consider the evidentiary material collected by ‘’Presidential Commissions of Inquiry’’ (Commissions of Inquiry), hence has to resummons all the witnesses who gave evidence upon a case being referred to CIABOC. There are over 30 Commission reports in CIABOC and re-summoning these witnesses would consume a lot of time. As such an amendment has been drafted and approved by the Cabinet presently tabled in Parliament.

Madam President, With regard to the Declaration of Assets, Experts from World Bank, UNODC, and two other countries were called to Colombo and in depth discussion were held along with relevant stakeholders of Sri Lanka. This was done to find out the gaps in our Declaration of Assets and Liabilities law. Thereafter this will be placed before the Cabinet to consider and to make suggestions.

In addition to that , Sri Lanka is in the process of drafting a Policy paper to enact Proceeds of Crime Act. Further the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, No. 6 of 2006 is to be amended filling in lacunas in the law on money laundering and related offences. Also substantial amendments are currently being suggested to the Companies Act to have and include beneficial ownership information.

More over Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption Act, No. 19 of 1994 is to be amended to make the law compatible with the UNCAC provisions and prevention Laws.

Madam Chair. Once again the government has manifested its political will and its absolute confidence in the CIABOC in its endeavours to eradicate corruption, in that The Cabinet has, on 24 October 2017 given its approval to The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption under the guidance of Presidential Secretariat and in consultation with the relevant Agencies, to formulate The National Action Plan to combat corruption. Accordingly measures were undertaken by the Commission In order to enlist the support of relevant stakeholders in the development of the NACAP and related activities. These included the establishment of a Working Group and consultations with government, public institutions, private sector, civil society organizations and the general public. The members of the Working Group are drawn from government anti-corruption agencies, civil societies, private sector, media, key accountability institutions, experts and from development partners.
The general public have also been given the opportunity to contribute to the NACAP process via the website of the CIABOC, through media advertisement and other ways. To enlist public support for the project and to popularize it, the media was used effectively. The media campaign will educate citizens on the consequences of corruption and will publicize the processes and activities leading to the development of the NACAP.
Supplementary regional awareness campaigns were conducted covering all the provinces in Sri Lanka with the aim of spreading the news about ‘National Action Plan and also to gather public opinion, views and suggestions in that regard.
Madam Chair, at the moment, the Gathering of required information and suggestions on the National Action Plan from all sectors of the public is in progress with tremendous success.
The compilation of the gathered information would be carried out in order to incorporate them in the draft of the ‘National Action Plan’. Drafted National Action Plan will be presented to the public via Print Media and Electronic media and further public views and suggestions will be gathered for the purposes of modification or any changes that may require. The required changes to the draft of the ‘National Action Plan’ will be done using the gathered information and final version of the National Action Plan will be produced. The finalized National Action Plan will be translated to all three languages and will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers to get the approval. Approved National Action Plan will be presented to the public and will be implemented with the expected results.

In addition to the above amendments to the law and the policy reforms, we are now in an era of institutional reforms. CIABOC has never had a single expert in its entire history. Thus after going through the government formalities approval was obtained to recruit 200 experts in the fields of Accountancy, Auditing, Financial Analysis, Digital forensic, Bonds, Securities, Banking, International Contracts Procurement, Construction, Engineering, Management and Public Administration.
Though Article 156A of the 19th Amendment stipulated that a Prevention mechanism would be implemented, the country has never had any prevention unit. Thus after going through the government machinery approval has been obtained to set up a Prevention Unit and to recruit 50 Prevention Officers. The recruitment process will be initiated promptly in the near future. What is heartening to note is that on 17 of August 2018 we established and inaugurated our Preventive Unit formally even though it was in existence informally even prior to that date.

As I have outlined in my statement, our strong commitment and the relentless pursuit will be there to combat bribery and corruption marshaling all our resources and efforts. We are making steady progress at present, in translating the action points that entailed from our participation in the review processes held. Sri Lanka, as a country ratified UNCAC in year 2004, has always rendered its fullest support formally and informally to all state parties in need and will continue to do so in the future.
It is also with great pride but with humility I announce that we who ranked 97th out of 175 countries in the corruption Perception index of the Transparency International in 2009, managed to rise up in rank to the 91st position in 2017.
Finally we thank all of you Madam chair and the distinguished delegates for the opportunity given to the Sri Lankan delegation to express our views.
I thank you, Madam. President.

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