NSC urges draft amendments to MMDA to be placed before Muslim civil organisations prior to Cabinet approval

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The Island – The National Shoora Council (NSC) has urged the Minister of Justice to place the proposed draft amendments to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) for the consideration of Muslim civil society organisations including the NSC before placing the proposed amendments for the consideration of the Cabinet. The following is the full text of the letter addressed to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe by NSC President T.K. Azoor Attorney at Law and Secretary Rashid M. Imtiaz Attorney at Law.

The National Shoora Council (NSC) wishes to welcome your initiatives to amend the MMDA, a matter pending for a considerable period of time.

The NSC understands that a draft amendment to the MMDA is pending to be placed before the Cabinet of Ministers. However we wish to request that the proposed draft amendments be made available for the consideration of the Muslim civil society organisations including the NSC, before being presented for the approval of the Cabinet, because the MMDA is a personal law applicable to the Muslim community of Sri Lanka and obtaining the community’s concurrence to the final draft would be the most democratic and transparent process of amending the law. The NSC is constrained to make this request in the light of certain amendments in the draft said to be based on a recently State appointed Committee comprising of a Chairperson holding office in the State and whose report has not been released to the Muslim community.

In any event, international treaties which form a part of the international law have adequate provisions which protect the human rights of minority communities to live according to their religions, culture and customs without interferes particularly from the State. Examples are Article 27 of the ICCPR and Article 1 of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National, or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. Sri Lanka’s constitutional provisions such as Article 10 read with Articles 9 and 4(d) and Articles 14(1)(e) and (f) as well as Article 27(15), protect these rights and have mandated the State and all the organs of Government to “respect, secure and advance” these rights of the minority communities.

The Superior Courts of Sri Lanka have also held that changes to the personal laws of the communities must be with the concurrence of the particular community. The NSC wishes to assure you its fullest cooperation in this regard.


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