JO complains of violation of Standing Orders in passing Enforced Disappearances Protection Bill

By Saman Indrajith

The Joint Opposition yesterday (08) requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to hold another debate on the Enforced Disappearances Protection Bill on another day since it had been passed in violation of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

The JO Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena, during parliamentary session yesterday, said: "The government said that it would present an amendment to the Bill. But, that Amendment was not on our tables on Wednesday (07). Furthermore, it was also said that more time would be given to the MPs to discuss the Bill because the time allocated for the debate was not sufficient. But, the Bill was passed on the same day without any more time being given to us. This is a violation of Standing Orders."

Speaker Jayasuriya said what he said was that more time would be given only if the time was not sufficient.  It was in the Hansard, the Speaker said.

Gunawardena: "Speaker, you did not follow the Standing Orders. You once postponed a debate after TNA Parliamentarian M.A Sumanthiran complained about lacking Tamil Translations of the PRECIFAC report. There was no Tamil Translation for Enforced Disappearances Bill yesterday. But, you did not postpone the debate. Why did you follow different procedures for two similar incidents?"

Gunawardena said they had not been given the amendment. Also, the JO MP Chandrasiri Gajadheera wanted to participate in the debate but he was not given a chance. That was why we wanted you to postpone the debate, Gunawardena added.

The MP said the Prime Minister suddenly had rushed into Chamber and said that he would withdraw the amendment. "How can this be allowed to happen? You did not care about our request to the Speaker. It clearly shows that the Standing Orders have been violated. Therefore, please allocate another day for the debate on the Bill and pass it."

The Speaker said that he would discuss the matter with the party leaders.

The Enforced Disappearances Protection Bill was passed on Wednesday without any amendment.  It received 53 votes in favour and 19 votes against in its second reading stage and 53 for and 16 against at the third reading stage. 

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