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Sri Lanka: Attorney General Opposes Non-Summary Proceedings

(Jan. 2, 2008) Speaking at a meeting of the Asian Crimes Prevention Foundation on December 15, 2007, the Sri Lankan Attorney General, C. R. De Silva, said that he opposed the use of non-summary proceedings in magistrate's courts for cases of serious crimes, such as murder, attempted murder, and rape. He argued that the cases in which such proceedings take place drag on for many years. He suggested, "At the very outset the Magistrate's Court should contact my department and then I would decide whether the case should be directly indicted before a High Court or allowed to take its own course in the Magistrate's Court."

The Attorney General went on to say that the criminal procedure code requires cases to be heard on a day-to-day basis, but that at the magistrate's courts there is a large backlog of cases. Given that long delays may result in the acquittal of a criminal or the conviction of an innocent person, De Silva argued, the current situation is causing people to lose confidence in the criminal justice system. In one case, he said, a rape victim had waited over eight years for justice. He also expressed the view that the current laws of Sri Lanka were not sufficient to deal with the increasing crime rate in the country. (Franklin R. Satyapalan, AG Blames Non-Summary Proceedings for Laws' Delay, THE ISLAND, Dec. 19, 2007, available at http://www.island.lk/2007/12/19/news1.html.)