By Sandun A Jayasekera
The Cabinet yesterday approved the withdrawal of the Counter-Terrorism Bill, Cabinet spokesman, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said yesterday.
He told the weekly Cabinet news briefing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) when in Opposition had strongly campaigned against the Anti Terrorism Bill since its approval by the then Cabinet in September 2018 under the then yahapalanaya government in place of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
“The PTA is back in the statute book, empowering the Police and Armed Forces to face any threat posed to national security from any quarter,” the minister said. “The bill was held up at the Oversight Committee on Foreign Affairs in Parliament following the protest of the joint opposition. It aimed to suppress the media, the opposition, progressive forces, labour rights, students movements and weakens the Police and armed forces.”
He said it was drafted without concern to national security and approved by the Cabinet amid opposition by President Maithripala Sirisena. The Bill was presented in Parliament by then Foreign Affairs Minister Tilak Marapona and not by the Minister of Defence.”
The minister said the withdrawal of the Bill would be welcome by the security establishments, the media, trade unions and politicians.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardana had submitted the Cabinet memo on Wednesday to seeking approval towithdraw the Bill.