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Friday, 15 June 2012

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Legal Aid Commission

Legal Aid, a Constitutional Right

President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a young lawyer in Tangalle pioneered a Legal Aid Centre in the 1970s.This was at a time before the enactment of Legal Aid Law in 1978. Legal Aid to the poor and the Legal Legacy has come a long way from modest beginnings.

By 2012, the Legal Aid Commission has opened 70 Court based Legal Aid Centres provided free legal advice and Litigation Support to over 50,000 deserving cases annually.


The Legal Aid Commission annual trip was held at Padukka. Here, LAC lawyers pose for a group photo

President Rjapaksa when opening the Legal Aid Centre in Hambantota in 2004 promised that the right of Equal Access to Justice or Legal Aid will be made a Constitutional Right. Despite the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, Equal Access to Justice is yet to be recognized as a Constitutional Right, such as Fundamental Constitutional Provision ensuring fundamental Freedom of the people will, this must probably get root support of all parties in Parliament. Does law equitably work for everyone including the poor and vulnerable? The answer is a resounding NO. The vast majority of Sri Lankans feel justice is beyond their incomes. Their earnings are just sufficient to use a cliche to eek out an existence. The formal justice systems are costly and not affordable. Lawyering in this country is fees based and the portals of justice could be opened only by lawyers. Judiciary is still independent and justice oriented.

But judges cannot roam the streets or villages seeking acts of injustice to be rectified. They will adjudicate only on cases brought before them. The lawyers are the pricy intermediaries between injustice and justice.

In ancient Sri Lanka, justice was reached by Mediation and Arbitration which are alternative to the formal court system and were conduits of justice. The colonial rulers found the tradition (Niyaya) based systems inconvenient and non profitable. They enacted laws and procedures and devised the court system to implement the laws and created the legal profession.

The Right of legal representation was originally a noble profession. The lawyers were pleaders who pleaded the cause of the weak as a service. But all this is now nostalgic history.

Legal Aid is only a major component of the broader principle of legal empowerment of the poor. Legal empowerment includes equality of opportunity in education, employment, business opportunity and general good governance.

Injustice linked to vulnerable groups has to be removed by social justice laws and programmes. Sri Lanka has done well in respect of Social Justice programmes with regard to health, education and poverty alleviation.

These programmes have yielded results In narrowing gender gap. We are only second in Asia and sixteenth in the world. Developed countries like U.S.A., Japan and Italy are way behind us in the World Economic Forums annual gender parity index. For a country with per Capita income of just over US $ 2000, our life expectancy level of over 75 years and literacy level of over 92 percent are commendable. However, if there was access to justice index we would reach only the minimal level.

The state allocates billions of rupees to Health, Education and Samurdhi programs. We have no grouse about that. However, legal aid gets only a minuscule of Rs. 50 million a year.

This is an improvement from 2005 when legal aid received only Rs. 9 million. Access to justice is still not regarded a important factor in this country. The annual allocation of Rs. 50 million works out for just over Rs. 2 per year for a citizen in this country. This is shameful.

Laws work more for the rich in many countries. Lawyering for Business is far more lucrative than attending to the legal empowerment needs of the poor.

The pricy lawyers are recognized better by both the State and the Courts. Legal Aid lawyers are poor man’s lawyers and treated as such by persons wielding power.

However the judiciary is consistently sympathetic to the mission of Legal Aid as Legal Aid is an integral part of the justice system. The courts could rectify wrongs only if the issues are brought before them by effective legal aid lawyers and judgments are respected. There are lapses in this respect.

Sri Lanka’s 1978 constitution unlike the Indian constitution is not an ode to Social Justice. The right to receive legal aid is not recognized in our constitution.

This has to be amended as promised. If we fail in this respect, the majority of Sri Lankans will continue to be legally impoverished.


Lecture on Investment Arbitration

Institute for the Development of Commercial Law and Practice has organized a lecture on Investment Arbitration to be held on June 18 from 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm at the ICLP Arbitration Centre.

The lecture will be held under the theme of ‘Legal Consequences of Breach of Government Undertakings to Investors: Impediments to Physical Infrastructure Development’.

For all countries, attracting foreign and private sector investment is a key strategy in nation building and sustainable development. As far as developing countries are concerned, there is high competition to attract investors. In order to encourage investors to choose their jurisdictions as investment destinations, developing country governments provide various investment protection undertakings.

Legal consequences of breaching such undertakings can be severe, especially when disputes relating to such breaches are submitted for resolution by international arbitration.

It is well established in international investment law that States should not breach promises made to investors concerning the stability of investments. Sometimes developing country governments take decisions that adversely affect the interests of the investors.

Such decisions are often taken without due consideration of the legal consequences.

In this second part of the seminar, the aim is to have a brief look at the usual investment protection undertakings given by state entities and how international tribunals and domestic courts of law have dealt with disputes relating to breach of such undertakings.

The lecture will be delivered by Dr. Asanga Gunawansa, who is a legal practitioner specialized in arbitration of international investment disputes and construction disputes.

He is also currently attached to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the School of Design and Environment of the National University of Singapore (NUS) as an Adjunct Professor.

The lecture is open to Attorneys-at-Law, Professionals from the Construction Industry, Senior Management of State bodies and Development Projects and students from the relevant field. Contact Shaheema on 2346163 / 0775375998 for further details.


ICLP Diploma in Commercial Arbitration Examination - 2011/2012

The results of the eighth batch of the ICLP Diploma in Commercial Arbitration was released on June 7 by the Board of Examiners K.Kanag Isvaran PC (Chairman of the Members of the Faculty), Justice L.K. Wimalachandra, Dr Harsha Cabral PC, Uditha Egalahewa, Dr. Ananda Ranasinghe, Arjuna Obeyesekere, Chandaka Jayasundara at the ICLP Arbitration Centre.

Vidura Mendis, Quantity Surveyor, topped the Batch securing a Merit Pass. Parakrama Devasiri (Engineer), Viraj Hatarasinghe (Quantity Surveyor), Ms. Nadeeka Galhena (Attorney-at-Law) and Lasantha Bandara (Quantity Surveyor) passed the examination securing Merits. Viraj Hatarasinghe (Quantity Surveyor) has qualified for the Walter Laduwahwetty prize for the best Arbitral Award.

Ms. Yoshitha Wanasinghe (Attorney-at-Law), Piyasoma Wijamunige (Quantity Surveyor), Hirantha De Zoysa (Quantity Surveyor), Jayantha Ranatunga (Engineer), Aruna Somadasa(Engineer), Ranga Senanayake (Engineer), K. K. Sandun (Quantity Surveyor), Ms. Padmini Keerawella (Engineer), Anthony Fernando (Engineer), Ajith Rodrigo (Engineer), Dissanayeke Idampitiyagedara (Quantity Surveyor), Udayaratne Dharmapala (Engineer), Dusyantha Rupasinha (HR Professional), Ms. Shamila Dawood Lebbe (Attorney-at-Law), Ms. Nivarthana Weragala (Quantity Surveyor), Ms. Ornella Silva (Attorney-at-Law), Ms. Niwanka Edirisooriya (Quantity Surveyor), Ms. Nilisha Kathurusinghe (Attorney-at-Law), J. Sivaramasarma(Attorney-at-Law), Ms. Madeeha Mawoon (Attorney-at-Law), Ms. Thyaga De Silva(Attorney-at-Law), Ms. Panchalidevi Vitharana (Apprentice), Kasun Wishwa Wijesuriya (Attorney-at-Law), Ms. Swasthika Arulingam (Attorney-at-Law), Major Nishsanka Wasalabandara (Engineer) obtained passes. Contact person: Ms Shaheema Fazly, Programme Officer, Tel: 2346163/4


[ Questions and Answers]

Holdings of the Archives

Question: Please let me know what kind of historical records can be obtained to the public from the Department of National Archives?

Answer : Copies of records of the Portuguese period; Records of the Dutch period 1640-1796: Land Tombo, Head Tombo and School Tombo Council Minutes and practically all records of the Dutch administration in the Island; Records of the British Period 1796-1947; copies of Crown Grants, Grain Tax Registers, Nila Pangu and Praveni Pangu Registers. Records after independence 1948; Government, Semi Government and of other institutions.

Donated or Purchased Papers 1. Manuscripts and Books from Institutions and Individuals 2. Horagolla library – Bandaranaike family records 3. Times Collection Collected /Deposited Material1.

Historical Manuscripts from temples and other private individuals. 2. Collection of Election Literature. 1. Maps of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods (1505-1947)2. Maps of Sri Lanka since Independence (Surveyor General’s Maps) Government Publications1. Ordinances 1796-1947 2. Government Gazettes 1802 3. Blue Books 1821-1937 4. Sessional Papers 1860 onwards 5. Administration Reports 1867 onwards, 6.Hansards 1870 onwards, 7 Other publications (1885 onwards).


Services

Question: Please let me know what kind of services can be obtained by the Department of National Archives?

Answer : The following services can be obtained from the Department of National Archives.

Provide historical and administrative information.

Provide facilities as a research centre to administrators and the public.
Reprographic facilities, such as microfilming, digital scanning and reader –printer copies.
Advise to public offices on Records and Archives Management.
Assist private sector on records and archives management.
Advise to J.R.Jayawardena Research Centre on professional activities.
Advise to public offices on microfilming of records.
Technical and Scientific advice on conservation and restoration of records.
Organize exhibitions on record and affiliated activities.
Produce documents in Courts and giving evidence on request.
Research on Sri Lanka history.

Conduct lectures on archives and records management and conservation.


Marriage

Question: I am a Sri Lankan citizen and my fiance is a Dutch citizen. We want to get married in Sri Lanka. Could you please let us know what documents my fiance need in order to marry in Sri Lanka?

Answer: Marriage can be registered after four days of arrival to Sri Lanka. Please contact the Additional District Registrar in the relevant Divisional Secretariat Office or the Marriage Registrar within the area you are temporary residing in Sri Lanka. Your fiancé may bring the following documents. (i) Passport(ii) If she has married earlier either the divorce certificate or decree absolute issued by the court of law(iii) If she has married earlier and if her spouse is dead, the death certificate of her spouse.


Department of National Archives

Question: Please let me know the contact detail of the Department of National Archives?

Answer: Head Office - Department of National Archives P.O. Box 1414No. 7, Philip Gunawardena Mawatha (Reid Avenue)Colombo 7 Sri Lanka.Tel : +94 11 2694523, +94 11 2696917Fax : +94 11 2694419, +94 11 2688756 Telegram: National Archives E-mail: narchive@slt.lk

Kandy Branch - Department of National Archives (Kandy Branch)Hemamali Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka.Tel: +94 81 2223729 Fax: +94 81 2223729

Director - Dr. Saroja Wettasinghe Tel : +94 11 2671042, Fax : +94 11 2694419

Registration of Books and Newspapers - Miss.Wasanthi Egodawatte (Supervision) Assistant Archivist Tel: +94 11 2696917/+94 11 2696608

Exhibitions and School Archives - Mrs. Sumana Amarasinghe,
Assistant Archivist -Tel: +94 11 2696917/+94 11 2694523
Accessions - Miss. Dilini Liyanage, Assistant Archivist Tel: +94 11 2696917/+94 11 2694523
Public Relations- Mrs. Surangi Hewawarakatiya
Archival Research Assistant - Bimal Sampath Abeysekara - Tel: +94 11 2696917/+94 11 2694523
Search Room - Mrs. Shirani Patabandi, Record Indexing Officer-Tel: +94 11 2696917/+94 11 2694523
Library - .P. Pieris, Archival Assistant - Tel: +94 11 2696917/+94 11 2694523


Marriage Certificate

Question : I wish to get a copy of my marriage certificate. We were married on 22.08.66 at Kurunegala.

Answer: Contact the Additional District Registrar at the Divisional Secretariat Office at KurunegalaFee for certified copy of a marriage certificate is,(i) If the registered number and the date of registration is known - 25 SL rupees per each copy(ii) If the registered number is not known and the date of registration is known, search of registry for three month entry - 50 SL rupees per each copy(iii) If you know only the year of marriage, search of registers only for a period not exceeding two years entry - 100 SL rupees per each copy


Death Certificate

Question : My mother ’s Death Certificate has been misplaced. How can I obtain a copy of the same?

Answer: You can obtain a certified copy of the death certificate from the Additional District Registrar at the Divisional Secretariat Office relevant to the place of death occurred. Fee for obtaining certified copies of death certificates are,(i) If the registered number and the date of death is known - 25 Rupees(ii) If do not know the registered number, but the date of birth is known, for 3 month search of registry - 50 Rupees(iii) If you know only the year of death, for 2 year search of registry - 100 Rupees


Visiting Parliament

Question: We like to visit the Parliament. Please let me know the procedure to be followed?

Answer: General Details - Any Member of the Public may visit the public galleries of Parliament either as a group or individually on any sitting or non-sitting day. Visits are arranged for 30 minutes duration between 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. on non-sitting days and till the end of the sessions on any sitting day. Time of Sittings Unless Parliament otherwise decides, Parliament shall meet in two alternate weeks in each month commencing after the first Sunday of each month and shall sit on the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of the first and third of such weeks. Parliament does not ordinarily sit on Saturdays and Sundays and other holidays and the sittings of Parliament are usually held from 1.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. On some days the sittings might be extended beyond 7.30 p.m. During the budget period, generally, the allotted hours of sittings shall be 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 1.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. and may subject to change from time to time.

Permission to visit Galleries

In order to visit the Public Galleries, permission needs to be obtained from the Serjeant-at-Arms. Such a request may be made by contacting the Parliament directly or by completing and forwarding an Inquiry Form. In your inquiry you would have to furnish the following details: Full Names and addresses of the visitors, National Identity Card (NIC) numbers of the visitors, date and time of visit, purpose of visit.

Your contact details

Once your details have been processed the Serjeant -at- Arms would contact you to confirm your request and in turn would issue the pass to enter the Parliamentary Complex.

Instructions for visitors to Parliament

Only those who possess a pass issued by the Serjean t-at-Arms, valid for the date of visit will be allowed to visit the Parliamentary Complex. Therefore, the permission card issued to you by the Serjeant- at- Arms for that purpose should be brought by you without fail and kept safely with you until you leave the Parliament building.

On account of the security arrangements in force at present in Parliament, items, such as, parcels, hand bags, brief cases, travelling bags, books, newspapers, documents, pens, pencils, rain coats, umbrellas, cameras, cellular phones, electric or electronic items or accessories, cigarettes, tobacco, chews of betel, smoking pipes, food items, hats etc. are not allowed to be brought into the Public Gallery. Therefore, refrain from bringing in such items. If you have any of the above mentioned things with you, leave them in your vehicle. Apart from the above mentioned items, any other items which may be deemed as those not to be allowed inside the Gallery, too will not be allowed to be brought in.

Since infants and small children are not allowed to be brought into the Gallery at times when Parliament is in session, they should not be taken into the Gallery. You must ensure that babies and small schoolchildren are not seated in the first row of the Gallery.

Visitors who are not properly dressed will not be allowed to enter the Galleries. Therefore, visitors to the Public Galleries should be properly dressed.

Since the entry of vehicles to the Parliament premises is restricted on security grounds, your vehicle should not be driven into the Parliament premises. As facilities have been provided to park the vehicles of visitors to Parliament in the parking area where the restaurant is situated opposite Parliament premises, please park your vehicles there.

After parking your vehicle in the said parking area, you are required to cross the main road with your group and call at the Security Check Point at Jayanthipura.

On showing the pass to the Police on duty at the Security Check Point of Jayanthipura, you are required to proceed to the Security Officers’ Room and inform them of your arrival. Once the necessary entries are made in their Registers to that effect, a Parliament bus will be called by the Security Officers to transport your group to the Parliament building from the Security Check Point at Jayanthipura.

All visitors to Parliament will be subjected to a security check. Therefore you are required to allow the police to check you physically at the Security Check Point at Jayanthipura.

Your vehicle will be allowed to be brought in up to the Security Check Point at Jayanthipura only on rainy days and on such occasions the vehicle should be parked in the premises of the restaurant referred to above after the visitors are dropped at the Check Point.

You may proceed up to the Public Entrance of the Parliament building in the Parliament bus allocated for you after being subjected to the body check. Refrain from walking and make sure that you reach the aforesaid entrance only in the bus provided to you.

You have to get down from the bus at the Public Entrance and the Police Officers who are on duty at the Public Entrance will lead you to the entrance to the building.

You will be subjected once again to a security check at the said entrance and therefore forming two queues with men in the right queue and women in the left queue will make the security check easy. The leader of your group should produce his National Identity Card and the pass issued to you by the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Police Officers who are on duty in that particular point.

You can enter Parliament building through the Public Entrance and proceed up to the Public Gallery by using the stairs on to the West. The officers of the Parliament Police and the officers of the Parliament will direct you to the Gallery and make sure that you don't walk into areas beyond it. Please make sure that school children and other children whom you accompany walk up the stairs carefully and in an orderly manner.

The members of your group must maintain complete silence while they are in the Public Gallery or in any other area of the building. You should make sure that they maintain silence so that the functioning of the institution is not disturbed and that they behave properly and also that they will not damage audio visual and other equipment in the Public Gallery and the Institution. Smoking, talking, clapping, merry-making, making various sounds, cracking jokes, walking about and standing, making fun, making signals using facial expressions, peeping into the Chamber, pointing fingers, hands, legs etc. towards the Chamber, throwing various objects into the Chamber, waving or making signals to the Members of Parliament, sleeping, taking down notes, and reading books and papers are strictly prohibited while you are in the Public Gallery.

Jumping over the security fences and occupying seats in the newspaper gallery should not be done while you are in the Public Gallery and you should take seats as directed by the Parliament Officer or the Police Officer who is on duty at the Public Gallery. Police Officers will remove persons who are in the Public Gallery if there is a commotion inside the Chamber, and you should obey the orders given by them in such instances.


Information from the National Archives

Question: I am an Art Facuilty student. I am doing reaserch. Can I get information from the National Archives to do my reaserch?

Answer: You can obtain records from the Search Room of the National Archives Department. Search room provides research facilities to the public. It consists of finding aide such as indices list and précis of records groups. There was chronological and alphabetical for newspapers. Opening Hours - 8.45 p.m. to 4.00 p.m

Retrieval of information from records. Public records deposited in the National Archives are open for the public. Some records are classified and closed for access by the public. Classified records could be accessed only after the scheduled period with the written authorization of the head of the records creation institution and with the consent of the Director National Archives.

Facilities for research /in search room

Researches should carry out their own research. Advice will be given by the staff of the Archives on research methods, availability of records and in the use of finding aids.

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