Press release on Easter Sunday attacks by Forum on Disarmament and Development (FDD)
The Forum on Disarmament and Development (FDD) said it was deeply shocked and saddened by the suicide bombings at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on April 21, which caused the loss of over 250 lives and injured over 500 innocent people including foreign nationals In a media statement it said:
“These ruthless terrorist attacks have directly impacted Sri Lanka’s national security and human security in an unprecedented manner.
During the investigations carried out with the assistance of the vigilant public in the aftermath of the attacks, the Armed Forces and the Police have discovered alarming quantities of explosives as well as firearms and other weapons around the country.
The FDD has been advocating for the GoSL to amend certain important local legislation or enact new legislation and engage with the United Nations programmes relating to arms and ammunition related laws, resolutions and treaties otherwise the situation ease for terror, the underworld and related activities in the country.
The existing local laws have not been updated for several decades and years and therefore are not in optimum condition to meet today’s context.
Unfortunately, these advocacy efforts were not reciprocated by the Government. Sri Lanka cannot deal with the challenges of emerging international terrorism with the archaic laws that are currently in force.
Amend certain important local legislation or enact new legislation and engage with the United Nations programmes relating to arms and ammunition related laws, resolutions and treaties otherwise the situation ease for terror, the underworld and related activities in the country
Under the current circumstances, it is of paramount importance for the GoSL to take immediate action in furtherance of the below-mentioned activities at local and international levels.
The FDD believes that this will greatly help the relevant authorities to enforce the law, gather effective public support, ensure public safety, equip the judiciary to uphold up-to-date laws, enhance coordination among the relevant Government institutes in their respective work spheres, and allow civil society, the media and the general public to directly engage with the Government on peace and security in the country.
Further, it will enable the Government to constructively engage with the international community to seek support for the eradication of terrorism and the use of illicit arms and explosives in Sri Lanka.
Locally, Sri Lanka should take the following steps -
1. Firearms Ordinance No 33 of 1916 (as amended)- the Last amendment was by Firearms (Amendment) Act No 22 of 1996
2. Explosives Act No 21 of 1956 (as amended)- the Last amendment was by Explosives (Amendment) Act No 18 of 2005
3. Immigrants and Emigrants Act No 20 of 1948 (as amended)- the Last Amendment was by Immigration and Emigration (Amendment) Act No. 7 of 2015 and
4. Re-establish the National Commission Against Proliferation of Illicit and Small Arms (NCAPISA) which functioned up to 2008 in Sri Lanka.
- Existing local laws have not been updated for several decades and years and therefore are not in optimum condition to meet today’s context
Internationally, Sri Lanka should take the following steps -
1. Re-engage with the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (UNPOA). (Sri Lanka chaired its 1st review conference in 2006 and after 2008 Sri Lanka did not engage with the UNPOA);
2. Accede to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) – (The ATT is designed to foster responsible arms trade, stopping arms flows to non-state actors, terrorists and human rights abusers);
3. Constructively engage with the other conventions and resolutions of the UN relating to weapons, explosives and terrorism and
4. Constructively engage with the international community on sharing information, seeking technical assistance including the training of human resources and other necessary assistance.