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MPs could be unseated if guilty of serious misconduct

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The proposed independent Parliamentary standards authority responsible for monitoring and regulating the conduct of Members of Parliament will have the power to recommend unseating of Parliamentarians who are found guilty of serious misconduct, Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.

According to President Ranil Wickresmesinghe’s view that a code of conduct for Parliamentarians should be compiled and an independent body for the supervision of it should be established, a preliminary draft has been prepared for that purpose and the Cabinet of Ministers approved the combined proposal presented by the Prime Minister and Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister in this regard, to get the views of the Speaker and all Party Leaders on the preliminary draft, and consequently advice the Legal Draftsman to prepare a Bill taking into account the comments given.

Minister Rajapakshe went on to say that this entity with semi-judicial powers will be chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge and no politician will be appointed to it.

The Minister said that currently there is no law to impose punishments on MPs who are found guilty of corruption, fraud and theft and in such a case, only a ban on Parliamentary meetings for two or three weeks is imposed.

He further said, the views of the leaders of the political parties regarding the establishment of this authority will be obtained.

The Minister said that under this new Act, a document will be prepared so that everyone can know about the financial expenditures of the Members of Parliament and in case of any inconsistency, the Members should provide the relevant information.

Minister Rajapakshe also said that currently the Legal Draftsman’s department is preparing the draft for the establishment of this new authority.

The President has also appointed a committee under the chairmanship of former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to provide ideas and suggestions regarding the establishment of the new authority.

The authority which will be set up will have powers to determine and review the remuneration, allowances and facilities for MPs, monitor the conduct for MPs and take disciplinary action against MPs, following an investigation by the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Most countries have a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of a code of conduct for Members of Parliament.

In the relevant decision approved by the Cabinet of Ministers last Monday, it says ensuring the accountability, credibility, transparency and professionalism of the Members of Parliament are essential factors in enhancing public confidence in the effectiveness, transparency and fairness of the Legislature.

Therefore, at all times, Members of Parliament must exercise their powers, privileges and duties with fidelity and honesty.

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