CIABOC investigations: Questions over failure to refile cases

  • SJB awaits response for RTI
  • Rule of law has collapsed: JVP

By Uwin Lugoda

Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva has questioned why the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) had not yet acted to correct and refile cases that were withdrawn on technical grounds.

MP Dr. de Silva, speaking to The Sunday Morning, said the Commission was responsible for correcting any technical issues regarding cases that were withdrawn and refiling them.

He stated that the SJB hoped the Attorney General (AG) was not a puppet of the current regime and would be independent when addressing such issues. The Opposition MP opined that the AG should refile these cases since he was a part of the legal team that initially filed them.

“It is ridiculous. The other day we had a person who was acquitted on six different bribery counts, due to technicalities. So, we need to find out what is going on,” said Dr. de Silva, commenting on a Right to Information (RTI) request filed by the SJB seeking information on the cases withdrawn by the CIABOC.

SJB Parliamentarian Mujibur Rahman stated that the CIABOC had until 21 November to address the request, as stated in their RTI.

He explained that while there has been no response from the CIABOC, an official from the Commission had agreed to receive the letter and sign it.

The RTI was filed on 7 November, requesting details on all the cases that have been withdrawn by the CIABOC since 16 November 2019. According to MP Rahman, there have been a worryingly high number of cases that have been withdrawn by the CIABOC due to technical errors. The procedure, he said, would be to refile these cases and proceed with the investigations. However, this was not done.

“The CIABOC is not there to just withdraw cases. It is there to investigate them. What we have requested through the RTI is for information on the cases – who were the people involved in them, and the reasoning behind the withdrawal,” said Rahman.

The Opposition filed a similar RTI application with the Attorney General’s (AG) Department earlier this month, requesting information on the indictments that were withdrawn by the AG’s Department from 19 November 2019.

Rahman stated that the AG’s Department had confirmed receipt of the request.

When contacted, former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Sunil Handunnetti stated that this was not a surprise, considering the country’s rule of law has begun to collapse.

He explained that due to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the independence of these establishments, which was given via the 19th Amendment, was taken away.

“Both the law and economy of this country are collapsing. No one wants to go to the Bribery Commission and make a complaint, because there is no one you can trust. The law is in the President’s hands now, so this collapse is happening from the top, not the bottom. What will the international world think of us?,” Handunnetti questioned.