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Conducting inquests into death Committee to recommend reforms on new additions

7 March 2019 12:27 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Sandun A. Jayasekera

A committee of experts appointed to recommend reforms to conduct Inquests into Deaths has included a set of new deaths such as due to alleged negligence and rashness, still births, deaths of foreign nationals, deaths of Sri Lankan nationals who have died overseas, deaths in care facilities and deaths in psychiatry wards and psychiatry units. The  nine-member committee chaired by Prof. Ravindra Fernando, Senior Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University Colombo was also of the view that the inquests should be held for deaths in respect of which family members or dependents of the deceased request that an Inquest and or a postmortem examination be conducted, where reasonable grounds exist that following a death of a person, his remains have been surreptitiously or illegally buried, and deaths relating to human bodies that are not immediately identifiable, regardless of the circumstances that may have led to their death.   


The Committee was appointed by former Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in 2017. It had been brought to the notice of Minister that there were certain anomalies and shortcomings in the law and procedures relating to inquests of deaths obliging him to appoint this committee.   


“Considering  the extensive nature of the amendments, the Minister was of the view that Committee may even recommend the adoption of a new Chapter XXX to replace the existing Chapter, and the promulgation of necessary Rules. Such Rules shall include procedure and criteria for the appointment of Inquirers, functions of Inquirers, best practices to be followed in the conduct of Inquests and Postmortem Examinations and Exhumation of Human Remains, which we did,” Prof, Fernando said.   


Members of the Committee have considered the existing legal framework and prevailing procedures and practices pertaining to the conduct of Inquests into deaths and recommend amendments if any to be introduced to the legislation, Prof. Fernando told Daily 
Mirror yesterday.   


The Committee has also considered and recommend amendments in relation to the conduct of Inquests by Inquirers into deaths, conduct of Inquests by Magistrates, adoption of a new and special scheme for the conduct of judicial Investigations and Inquests into deaths pertaining to deaths in the custody of Police, Armed Forces and other State Authorities and deaths while the deceased was in the control of such State entities and the conduct of special Inquests into deaths resulting from or associated with mass-scale natural and man-made disasters and accidents resulting in large numbers of deaths.   The other members of the Committee were President’s Counsel Yasantha Kodagoda, Deputy Solicitor General, Dilhara Amerasinghe, Consultant, Ministry of Justice, Ashroff Rumi, Colombo City Coroner, Dr. Ajith Tennakoon, Chief Consultant JMO, Dr. S. D. Channa Perera, Consultant JMO, Prof. Jean Perera, Prof. of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, University of Colombo, and Dr. J. A. S. P. Abeywickrama, DMO Eheliyagoda.   


The Report of the Committee was handed over to Minister of Justice Thalatha Athukorala recently at the Ministry of Justice by the Chairman of the Committee Prof. Ravindra Fernando and other members. 

 

The minister was of the view that committee may even recommend the adoption of a new Chapter XXX to replace the existing Chapter

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