Deregulation: People friendly laws in the offing | Daily News

Deregulation: People friendly laws in the offing

The legal system in Sri Lanka comprises collections of codified and uncodified forms of law, of many origins that subordinate to the Constitution of Sri Lanka which is the highest law of the island. Our legal framework is a mixture of legal systems of Roman-Dutch law, English law, Kandyan law, Thesavalamai and Muslim law.

This mixture is a result of the colonial history of the island. As a result criminal law is based on English law while much of the common law is Roman-Dutch law, with certain aspects such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance associated with Kandyan law, Thesavalamai and Muslim law.

Sometimes we, Sri Lankans are suffering because of the law while sometimes the law helps us to be relieved and get the justice done. But all we need is one law for all that treats all equally despite their differences. The other most important factor is that the law should not become a tool of harassment for any citizen living in Sri Lanka. All should be able to see that justice is being done for all. Equality ensures the safety of all and safeguards democracy. Equality ensures the human rights of all. Legal aid should be offered to all needy people in Sri Lanka similar to the offering of Samurdhi allowances to all eligible recipients. Only then the justice will be done for the poor people in Sri Lanka.

De-Regulation Commission

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently appointed an 18-member De-Regulation Commission for the simplification of the existing laws and regulations in the interest of the people. According to the media reports, the Commission is co-chaired by Principal Advisor to the President, Lalith Weeratunga and John Keells Group Chairman Krishan Balendra.

The tasks of the Commission cover a review of all laws, regulations and circular instructions pertaining to Government finance, revenue laws and circular instructions, licensing and permit arrangements, investments, approvals and building permits etc. and how those regulations and circular instructions have evolved and circumstances influencing such regulations, assess as to whether the issuance of regulations and circular instructions has resulted in over-regulation and deviated from the scope and objectives of original legislations.

The tasks of the Commission also cover an assessment of the relevance of laws in the context of global standards and applicability in the Sri Lankan context to identify new room to adopt to make the most effective modern regulatory systems, assess the cost of enforcement to the state, compliance cost to the people and potential for corruption and irregular practices associated with complex and over regulatory systems.

It is important to identify areas where simplifications and rationalization could be made to existing regulations and circular instructions and issue directions to do away, modify if required and simplify all such regulations and study if there is a repetition due to issuing various approvals, permits and licenses through the national level, Provincial Councils and local authorities. The Commission can take necessary measures to amend such processes appropriately.

The Commission has been given a 90 day period to fulfill this task and issue instructions to relevant agencies as required for the purpose of executing the tasks entrusted. G. S. Vithanage, retired Ministry Secretary has been appointed as Secretary to the Commission.

There are many issues when it comes to certain rules, regulations etc. in connection with day-to-day activities of the people of Sri Lanka. Sometimes a Sri Lankan has to face various difficulties from his/her birth to death due to unnecessary complications, outdated laws and irrelevant laws etc. in the existing system. Therefore the current law of Sri Lanka needs a large number of amendments in almost all sectors. May be another commission or the same commission will be able to look into those issues after completing the assigned task first. Only a people’s Government like the current Government has the desire to look into the real burning issues of the Sri Lankan people.

We need relevant laws for organ donation. These laws should be matched with the present time where organ donation and organ transplants take place in the country on a substantial scale. If the country has relevant laws, all related corruption can be halted.

Organ donation is allowed once brain death is confirmed according to the Transplant Act in Sri Lanka. However, the awareness on brain death and organ transplants is still questionable among the public and the data on this aspect is lacking in Sri Lanka. It is also not clear as to what happened to the laws regarding “presumed donation” where organs of young accident victims are taken for transplant immediately upon confirmation of death on the assumption that the next of kin would give consent afterwards.

Abortion laws

The other most important factor is the existing law related to abortion. The existing law needs to be amended covering the part of legalizing aborting fetuses with birth defects. According to the Sri Lankan Consultants in the relevant field, 16 infants with various birth defects are born daily in Sri Lanka and two babies die daily in Sri Lanka due to the same. Annually 5,800 babies born in Sri Lanka with birth defects and 200 of them suffer throughout their life while 650 die before their first birthday. The second highest number of infant deaths is due to birth defects.

Around 25 percent of still births are caused due to birth defects. In 2018 around 700 babies died due to birth defects. About 30 percent of the infants are born with serious birth defects and they cannot lead a normal life. Around 24 percent of birth defects are caused due to heart diseases. Birth defects can be detected in the 18th to 20th week in pregnancy. In many other countries, mothers can legally opt for abortion if doctors detect fetuses with birth defects.

At the moment all Sri Lankan mothers need to suffer for nine (9) months and give birth to a dead infant or suffer the rest of her life with a child with birth defects who is disabled or abnormal. When a baby with birth defects is born, most fathers leave the family. Then the mother is forced to earn a living while looking after the abnormal/disabled child. The majority of day care centres, state and private schools in Sri Lanka do not accept such affected children and no institution give them employment. Those children need someone to look after them until they die.

The other burning issue is child mothers. When an underage (under the age of 18) girl is raped and gets pregnant she should have the right to get an abortion done because simply a child cannot and should not become a mother due to a crime. But unfortunately here in Sri Lanka the individuals and groups who oppose legalizing abortion on these two occasions, get illegal abortions done here or abroad spending a large sum of money when one of their own daughters/sisters get pregnant due to rape or carry a fetus with birth defects. Only the poor ordinary Sri Lankans are left without any help. People suffer due to various other similar ‘defects’ that exist in the legal system of Sri Lanka.

The other main issue is related to the pathetic conduct of certain Yahapalana politicians who interfered with the implementation of the law. Justice should be done in order to rectify those cases. By now certain innocent people are now in jail and the real perpetrators are freely living in the country due to acts of political interference made by Yahapalana politicians. All background information related to this issue has been revealed to the entire country through leaked telephone conversations that had taken place between a popular Yahapalana politician and individuals connected to the implementation of the law in Sri Lanka. The laws should be applied vigorously in these cases.