ASSISTANCE TO AND PROTECTION OF VICTIMS OF CRIME AND WITNESSES ACT

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

PART I

Objects of the Act

2. Objects of the Act.

PART II

Rights and Entitlements of Victims of Crime and Witnesses

3. Rights of Victims of Crime.

4. Entitlements of a victim of crime.

5. Entitlements of witnesses.

6. Persons to be entitled to protection in certain circumstances.

7. Duty of public and judicial officers to respect etc. rights and entitlements.

PART III

OFFENCES AGAINST VICTIMS OF CRIME AND WITNESSES

8. Offences against victims of crime and witnesses.

9. Attempting or instigating the commission of an offence under section 8, to be an offence.

10. An offence under section 8 and 9 to be cognizable and non-bailable.

PART IV

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL AUTHORITY FOR THE PROTECTION OF VICTIMS OF CRIME
AND WITNESSES

11. National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses.

12. Board of Management of the Authority.

13. Duties and functions of the Authority.

14. Powers of the Authority.

15. Appointment of Director-General.

16. Investigations and Inquiries.

17. Director-General to assist in the inquiry.

18. Fund of the Authority and its financial year.

PART V

VICTIMS OF CRIME AND WITNESSES ASSISTANCE AND PROTECTION DIVISION

19. Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Division.

20. Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection programme.

PART VI

ENTITLEMENT OF A VICTIM OF CRIME OR WITNESS TO OBTAIN PROTECTION

21. Duty to provide protection to victims of crime and witnesses.

22. Nature, commencement, duration and termination of the grant of protection.

23. Officer in charge of a police station to take necessary steps on receipt of a request by a victim of crime or a witness.

24. Authority or a Commission to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses.

25. Protection to be prescribed by Courts and Commissions.

26. Protection to be provided by law enforcement authorities and public officers.

27. Duties of victims of crime and witnesses receiving protection and assistance.

PART VII

COMPENSATION

28. Compensation.

29. Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Fund.

30. Entitlement to apply for compensation and assistance.

PART VIII

TESTIMONY THROUGH AUDIO-VISUAL LINKAGE

31. Recording of evidence or statement through contemporaneous audio-visual linkage.

32. Authority not required to provide assistance under section 31 in certain circumstances.

33. Procedure in recording testimony or statement.

34. Receiving or recording testimony through audio-visual linkage to be according to this part.

PART IX

GENERAL

35. Interference in the discharge of duties etc.

36. Secrecy.

37. Assessment of credibility of a testimony.

38. Provisions of this Act to prevail over other laws.

39. Audit of Accounts.

40. Appointment of public officers to the staff of the Authority.

41. Officials of the Authority deemed to be public officers.

42. The Authority deemed to be a Scheduled Institution within the meaning of the Bribery Act.

43. Action against bodies of persons.

44. Regulations.

45. Sinhala text to prevail in case of inconsistency.

46. Interpretation.

SCHEDULE

4 of 2015.

AN ACT to provide for the setting out of rights and entitlements of victims of crime and witnesses and the protection and promotion of such rights and entitlements; to give effect to appropriate international norms, standards and best practices relating to the protection of victims of crime and witnesses; the establishment of the National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses; constitution of a Board of Management; the Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Division of the Sri Lanka Police Department; payment of compensation to victims of crime; establishment of the Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Fund and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

[Date of Commencement: 07th March, 2015]

1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act.

PART I

OBJECTS OF THE ACT

2. Objects of the Act.

The objects of this Act shall be to—

(a) set out, uphold and enforce the rights and entitlements of victims of crime and witnesses and to provide for a mechanism to promote, protect, enforce and exercise such rights and entitlements;

(b) provide assistance and protection to victims of crime and witnesses;

(c) enable victims of crime to obtain compensation from persons convicted of having committed offences against them;

(d) provide for obtaining redress by victims of crime, including restitution, compensation, reparation and rehabilitation of such victims;

(e) set out duties and responsibilities of the State, judicial officers and public officers towards the promotion and protection of the rights and entitlements of victims of crime and witnesses;

(f) stipulate offences that may be committed against victims of crime and witnesses and the penal sanctions that may be imposed on persons who commit such offences; and

(g) provide for the adoption and implementation of best practices relating to the protection of victims of crime and witnesses.

PART II

RIGHTS AND ENTITLEMENTS OF VICTIMS OF CRIME AND WITNESSES

3. Rights of Victims of Crime.

A victim of crime shall have the right—

(a) to be treated with equality, fairness and with respect to the dignity and privacy of such victim;

(b) where the victim is a child victim, to be treated in a manner which ensures the best interests of such child;

(c) in accordance with procedures as may be prescribed, to receive prompt, appropriate and fair redress, including reparation and restitution, for and in consideration of any harm, damage or loss suffered as a result of being a victim of a crime;

(d) to be appropriately protected from any possible harm, including threats, intimidations, reprisals or retaliations;

(e) to be medically treated for any mental or physical injury, harm, impairment or disability suffered as a victim of a crime;

(f) upon a request made by such victim, to be informed—

(i) by the Authority or the Division, of the legal remedies available for the redress of any harm which he has suffered including civil remedies available for obtaining damages and relevant periods of prescription applicable thereto;

(ii) without prejudice to any on-going investigations being carried out by the officer-in-charge of the relevant police station or other authority conducting the investigation, of the progress of the investigation being conducted into the complaint presented by the victim of crime, to such police station or other authority conducting the investigation;

(iii) by the officer-in-charge of the relevant police station or other authority conducting an investigation, the Attorney-General or the Registrar of the Court, as the case may be, of the dates fixed for hearing and the progress and the disposal of judicial proceedings relating to the offence complained of by the victim of crime, including the non-summary inquiry, trial, appeal and application in revision and by the Authority of the rights and entitlements of the victim of crime pertaining to such proceedings;

(iv) by the officer-in-charge of the relevant police station or other authority conducting an investigation, the Attorney-General, the Registrar of the Court or the Superintendent of Prisons, as the case may be, of the dates fixed for the—

(a) release on bail;

(b) discharge of the suspect;

(c) institution of criminal proceedings against the accused;

(d) the conviction, sentence or acquittal of the suspect or the accused; and

(e) the release from prison of the convict, who has committed or is alleged to have committed an offence against the victim of crime and the reasons therefore; and

(v) by the Authority of the medical, social services and any other assistance that is or may be available for the treatment or amelioration of any harm caused to such victim of crime.

(g) to present, either orally or in writing, a complaint pertaining to the commission of an offence and to have such complaint recorded by any police officer, in any police station or other unit or division of the Police Department and to have such complaint impartially and comprehensively investigated by the relevant investigating authority;

(h) without prejudice to any on-going investigation, to be represented by an Attorney-at-Law during an investigation, including criminal and forensic investigations and magisterial inquiries into the alleged offence committed against such victim and make necessary representations to the appropriate competent authorities who are conducting such investigations;

(i) without prejudice to any on-going or concluded investigation, to obtain certified copies of Cause of Death forms, Post Mortem Reports, Medico-Legal Reports, Reports of the Registrar of Finger Prints, Reports of the Government Analyst and any other report of an expert and reports filed in the Magistrate’s Court by the Police, as required by sections 115, 116 and 120 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act:

Provided however, where an application is made for the purpose of obtaining certified copies of reports referred to in this paragraph, the Magistrate to whom such application is made shall inquire from the police, whether the issue of such Reports would prejudice the on-going investigations, to which those Reports relate and where the release of any one or more of the Reports is likely to prejudice the on-going investigation, the Magistrate shall refuse the issue of such Report or Reports;

(j) to present written communications or make representations through legal counsel to the Attorney-General, before, during and after the investigation into the offence alleged to have been committed against such victim, and before and during the conduct of judicial proceedings, including at the non-summary inquiry, trial and appeal;

(k) to present written communications or make representations through legal counsel to an investigator, who is conducting an investigation into the offence committed against such victim of crime, and to be entitled to receive a response in regard to such communications or representations made;

(l) to be present at all judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings relating to an offence, including at the non-summary inquiry, trial, appeals and any application in revision, unless the court, Commission or other tribunal determines, for reasons to be recorded that such victims evidence would be materially affected if he hears other evidence at such proceedings or the due discharge of justice could be secured only by the exclusion of such victim from being present during the hearing of certain parts of such proceedings;

(m) to receive any assistance and information required to attend and participate at judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings pertaining to the offence committed against him;

(n) without prejudice to the prosecution, to be represented by legal counsel at the several stages of the criminal proceedings relating to the offence, including at the non- summary inquiry, trial, appeal and application in revision, and where a request is made, to be provided where available with legal assistance for such purposes;

(o) following the conviction of the offender and prior to the determination of the sentence, either personally or through legal counsel, to submit to court the manner in which the offence concerned had impacted on his life, including his body, state of mind, employment, profession or occupation, income, quality of life, property and any other aspects concerning his life;

(p) in the event of an appeal or application in revision being presented by a person convicted of having committed an offence, either personally or through legal counsel, to submit to court that adjudicates upon such appeal or application in revision, the manner in which the offence concerned had impacted on his life, including his body, state of mind, employment, profession or occupation, income, quality of life and property and any other aspects concerning his life; and

(q) in the event of any person in authority considering the grant of a pardon or remission of sentence imposed on any person convicted of having committed an offence, to receive notice thereof and submit through the Authority to the person granting such pardon or remission, the manner in which the offence committed had impacted on his life including his body, state of mind, employment, profession or occupation, income, quality of life, property and any other aspects concerning his life.

4. Entitlements of a victim of crime.

(1) A victim of crime shall be entitled to receive a sum of money from the Authority, in consideration of the expenses incurred as a result of the offence committed and his participation in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings before a court or Commission, pertaining to the alleged commission of an offence or an alleged infringement of a fundamental right or a violation of a human right.

(2) Where necessary resources are available with the State, a victim of crime shall be entitled to claim and obtain from the State any required medical treatment, including appropriate medical services, medicine and other medical facilities, in respect of physical or mental injury, harm, impairment or disability suffered as a result of being a victim of crime and for necessary rehabilitation and counselling services.

(3) Where due to absence or lack of necessary resources the State is unable to provide the services claimed by a victim of crime under subsection (2), such victim shall be entitled to apply to the Authority for financial assistance for the purpose of obtaining the required medical treatment for any physical or mental harm, injury or impairment suffered as a result of being a victim of crime and for any necessary rehabilitation and counselling services.

5. Entitlements of witnesses.

(1) A witness shall be entitled to receive from investigational, quasi-judicial and judicial authorities fair and respectful treatment, with due regard to the dignity and privacy of such witness.

(2) A witness shall not be harassed or intimidated, coerced or violated during or thereafter, due to or as a consequence of—

(a) providing information relating to the commission of an offence or to the infringement of any fundamental right or the violation of any human right;

(b) volunteering to make a statement during an investigation into any offence or an investigation or inquiry into the infringement of any fundamental right or the violation of any human right; or

(c) providing testimony in a court or before a Commission relating to the alleged commission of an offence or an alleged infringement of a fundamental right or a violation of a human right.

(3) A witness shall be entitled to protection against any real or possible harm, threat, intimidation, reprisal or retaliation resulting from such witness having provided information or lodged a complaint or made a statement to any law enforcement authority or for having provided any testimony in any Court or before a Commission or for instituting legal proceedings, pertaining to the commission of an offence or for the infringement of a fundamental right or for a violation of a human right, by any person.

6. Persons to be entitled to protection in certain circumstances.

A person who is neither a victim nor a witness, shall be entitled to claim protection against—

(a) any harassment, intimidation, coercion, violation or suffering from loss or damage in mind, body or reputation; or

(b) any adverse change to his condition of employment,

due to or as a result of such person having provided information, lodged a complaint or made a statement to any law enforcement authority or to any Court or Commission or of having given a testimony in any Court or before a Commission, pertaining to the commission of an offence or an infringement of any fundamental right or the violation of a human right, at such persons’ place of employment or in the employment environment of such person.

7. Duty of public and judicial officers to respect etc. rights and entitlements.

It shall be the duty of every public officer including the members of the armed forces and police officers and every judicial officer, to recognize, protect and promote rights and entitlements referred to in sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this Act.

PART III

OFFENCES AGAINST VICTIMS OF CRIME AND WITNESSES

8. Offences against victims of crime and witnesses.

(1) Any person who—

(a) threatens a victim of crime or a witness with injury to his person, reputation or property or to the person or reputation or property of any other in whom such victim of crime or witness has an interest, with the intention of causing alarm to such victim of crime or witness or to cause such victim of crime or witness to refrain from lodging a complaint against such person with a law enforcement authority or testifying at any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings or to compel such victim of crime to withdraw a complaint lodged or legal action instituted against such person; or

(b) voluntarily causes hurt to a victim of crime or a witness, with the intention of causing such victim of crime or witness to refrain from lodging a complaint against such person with a law enforcement authority, or testifying at any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings or to compel such victim of crime to withdraw a complaint lodged or legal action instituted against such person, or in retaliation for a statement made or testimony provided by such victim of crime or witness in any court of law or before a Commission, against such person,

commits an offence, and shall on conviction by a High Court, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years and to a fine of rupees twenty thousand.

(2) Any person who—

(a) voluntarily causes grievous hurt to a victim of crime or a witness; or

(b) wrongfully restrains a victim of crime or a witness,

with the intention of preventing such victim of crime or witness from lodging a complaint against such person with a law enforcement authority or from testifying in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings against such person, or compelling such victim of crime or witness to withdraw a complaint lodged or a legal action instituted against such person, or in retaliation for a statement made or testimony provided by such victim of crime or witness in a Court of law or before a Commission against such person, commits an offence, and shall on conviction by a High Court be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twelve years and to a fine of rupees thirty thousand.

(3) Any person who—

(a) by force compels or by any deceitful means, abuse of authority or by any other means of compulsion, induces any victim of crime or a witness to leave any place; or

(b) intends to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss, damage or destruction to the property of a victim of crime or a witness, causes such loss, damage or destruction to the property of that victim of crime or witness,

with the intention of preventing such victim of crime or witness from lodging a complaint or making any statement against such person to a law enforcement authority or testifying against such person in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings or in retaliation for a statement made to a law enforcement authority or the testimony made against such person in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings by such victim of crime or witness, commits an offence, and shall on conviction by the High Court be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twelve years and to a fine of rupees thirty thousand.

(4) A person who causes—

(a) any harassment, intimidation, coercion, violation, physical or mental suffering, loss or damage to the reputation of another person; or

(b) an adverse change being made to the conditions of employment in the place of employment of such other person,

due to or as a result or consequence of such other person having provided any information or lodged a complaint or made a statement to any law enforcement authority or to any Court or Commission or having provided testimony in any Court or before a Commission or instituted legal proceedings pertaining to the commission of an offence or the infringement of a fundamental right or the violation of human rights of such person, commits an offence and shall on conviction by the High Court be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years and to a fine of rupees fifteen thousand.

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