Last Updated : 2019-07-22 00:02:00

PM wrong on local law to arrest terrorists

7 May 2019 12:01 am - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



On 26 April 2019, in an interview with SkyNews (UK), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made the following statement:

“To take part in a foreign armed uprising is not an offence here…. there is no law to prevent you from that.”

See the full statement here:

The PM makes this statement to suggest that new laws are needed, as prior action against those responsible for the Easter Sunday Bomb attacks was not possible under the current law. He states that such prior action was not possible despite knowledge that certain persons participated in armed uprisings abroad.

This fact check is on whether the current law in Sri Lanka empowers the government to arrest those who were known to have participated in acts of armed uprising in a foreign country. 
The Penal Code states the following:

Section 121: “Whoever wages war against the Government of any Power in alliance or at peace with the Republic, shall be punished with imprisonment of…” The illustration in Section 114 explains that joining an insurrection amounts to waging, aiding, or abetting war.

Section 122 similarly applies to “Whoever commits depredation, or makes preparations to commit depredation, on the territories of any Power…” 

In his interview, the Prime Minister is clear that despite knowing of Sri Lankans who went to Syria, joined the Islamic State, and took up arms, it was not possible to arrest them under Sri Lankan law. Since 28 April, there have also been several press reports on the Prime Minister reiterating this claim, adding that the Penal Code only covers offences committed within the country. However, the sections of the Penal Code cited above contradicts the PM’s claim. FactCheck has not found any subsequent law that repeals these provisions of the Penal Code.


Therefore, we classify the prime minister’s statement as FALSE.

*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the direct contradiction between the Prime Minister’s claim and the cited clauses of the Penal Code. As with every fact check, if new information arises to materially change the evaluation, FactCheck will revise the assessment.

FactCheck is a platform run by Verité Research. 
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  Comments - 2

  • Chatura Muthukumarana Tuesday, 07 May 2019 05:18 PM

    The law is not clear whether Sri Lanka has extraterritorial jurisdiction. Waging war against another government from Sri Lanka is definitely punishable, but it is not clear whether doing so in the soil of another country is also punishable.

    Sambo Friday, 17 May 2019 01:06 PM

    Some the speeches give by the PM are good for bed time stories for kids. You cannot arrest a person just because he went to Syria or Iraq and returned. We don't know what he was doing over there but when such people return they should be monitored all the time checking their movements.

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