The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Sarath Silva, said on Wednesday that Sri Lanka needs to now look at facilitating more “freedom of movement” with the country’s war-torn north and east, to foster peace and economic growth.
“Now that Sri Lanka is moving out of war we must talk more of freedoms and less of restrictions,” said the head of Sri Lanka’s judiciary, Sarath Silva, speaking at the inauguration of the SAARC-BASL (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation and Bar Association of Sri Lanka), ICT Conference.
“In today’s context especially, we must have more freedom of movement with the north and east. This will contribute to peace and economic development,” said Mr Silva. However, Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice noted that restrictive behaviour was a regional norm, despite the formation of the SAARC grouping, and called for greater intra-regional liberalisation.
“Tariff barriers can be in insidious forms like licences, which are good revenue generators for governments, but which retard economic development in the region. I am also concerned about the increasing visible and invisible barriers to ICT in the region,” said Mr Silva. “We should be looking at more free movement of persons, goods capital and institutions (companies). If there is a genuine effort of removing restrictions, prosperity follows and greater unity and peace,” he said.
Paper tiger ICT laws
On the domestic legal front, the Chief Justice noted that the use of Sri Lanka’s relatively new ICT related laws are increasing, but that the enforcement and investigative aspects of these laws are “sorely lacking.”
“The investigation and detection mechanisms are sorely lacking. The police are not geared to engage in this,” said the Chief Justice.
For instance, the Chief Justice noted that the number of cyber crime cases filed in 2005 was only 4, but 3 of these cases failed. In 2006 there were 9 cases but 78% were dismissed. In 2007 there were 17 cases but 76% went un-investigated.
“The number of cases is increasing. So the alarm bells are ringing. But our systems to detect such crimes and convict, is a failure. I was alarmed by the percentage of cases that were not even investigated; 76% went un-investigated. That is a very bad number. If this continues people will lose faith in our systems and Sri Lanka will lose the opportunity to be an outsourcing centre in this region,” said the Chief Justice.
As a solution, the Chief Justice, suggested that the ICT Agency’s emergency response team, with ICT experts, should work more closely with the police.