The Government is planning to enact several new laws next year, among them being one to introduce DNA tests to decide on parentage issues as well as provide relief to those charged in statutory rape cases.
According to a report submitted to Parliament yesterday during the budget vote of the Ministry of Justice, the bill to provide for parentage tests will enable DNA tests to be done to determine the paternity or maternity which will assist in matters such as custody of children, maintenance proceedings, and inheritance.
A series of other bills will include an amendment to the Penal Code to provide relief in cases where minors have been charged with statutory rape even though the girl and boy have been in a consensual relationship.
A bill to provide for a comprehensive law on Contempt of Court in Sri Lanka too is being drafted while amendment to the Notaries Ordinance will provide for biometric signatures to deeds at the time of signing and certain other provisions to prevent frauds.
This measure is being taken to prevent the high incidence of land fraud cases in the country according to the progress report of the Ministry of Justice submitted to Parliament yesterday.
Amendments to the Assistance and Protection to Victims and Witnesses Bill are now ready and ready for presentation in Parliament. Earlier Parliament deferred the bill when it was presented calling for certain amendments.
A separate bill relating to protection and assistance to child victims and witnesses of crime is to be presented. The bill will enable them to give evidence through video recordings and online links.
A Child Protection Bill that seeks to address contemporary realities with regard to child protection and increase the collaboration between the courts, the police and probation officers too is being drafted.
Amendments are also due to the Muslims Marriage and Divorce Act. These amendments which are still being discussed at a parliamentary committee appointed by the Minister of Justice are being drafted along with amendments to the Industrial Dispute Act which seeks to empower the President of Labor Tribunals to enforce their awards. Some Trade Unions have objected to the amendments. Discussions with trade unions are in progress, according to the Ministry report.
A new Obscene Publication Act is also being drafted which would include a section on child pornography while a bill on the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgment too is in draft stage.
Among the other proposed laws are a bill to give relief to displaced or disadvantaged from the provisions of the Prescription Ordinance and to increase the number of High Court judges to 75 under the Judicature (Amendment) Act, a Prisons Administration Act aimed at providing a new regime for the administration of prisons and a Bill to provide the High Court with powers to grant bail for offences under the Offensive Weapons Act instead of the Court of Appeal.