The Attorney General’s (AG) Department yesterday admitted that they failed to provide advises to the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) regarding possibilities of banning websites and social media accounts of National Thowheed Jamat (NTJ) and the organization itself.
Senior Deputy Solicitor General Sumathi Dharmawardena and Senior State Counsel Abdul Malik Aziz admitted that the AG Department failed to provide information to the CID on banning the NTJ, its websites and the organization itself while testifying before the Parliamentary Select Committee probing the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.
It was revealed before the PSC that the Department officials spent two years since 2017 to prepare a report related to the requests made by the TID and it had been completed on May 21, exactly one month after the deadly attacks.
Senior Deputy Solicitor General Dharmawardena and Senior State Counsel Abdul Malik Aziz said the letters sent by the TID only asked about banning Zahran’s websites and Facebook account. There are no provisions in Sri Lanka to ban websites according to the current cyber security laws, they stated.
Responding to a question raised by Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran whether they received any letter from the TID seeking advice to get on with investigations on NTJ the two representatives from the AG's Department said they did receive a letter from the TID in 2017 and received another in 2018.
“The TID request contained 63 pages. The TID had sent some printouts of a website. Since there are no cyber laws in Sri Lanka to ban websites, the AG Department did not reply” Dharamasena said.
“They (the TID) sent us printouts of documents downloaded from a website. After studying them Senior State Counsel Malik Azis invited them for a meeting at the Department on March 12, 2019. After a lengthy consideration it was found that there were no evidence to take action against the web site,” he added,.
The Additional Solicitor General revealed that had the police reported violent incidents that took place in the Kattankudy area to the Kattankudy Magistrate court and then indicted them before the Batticaloa High court, the file may have been sent to the AG’s Department. He said that police did not sought advice regarding banning of website and the Facebook account.
Dharmawardena said the police did submit a report on the matter but it was not complete.
It was also mentioned that the AG’s Department failed to ask for an update on NTJ and its activities. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)