The western countries are bracing for voicing strong concern for the government regarding the latest version of the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) and the Online Safety Bill - which they see as problematic after analysis of the contents with their legal experts yesterday, Daily Mirror learns.
The representatives of these countries held talks with the legal experts and conclude that the definition of terrorism in the ATB is extremely broad, ignoring international standards and norms. These countries find the bill with serious concerns.
Daily Mirror learns from a highly placed source that the new draft still leaves scope for abuses and arbitrary detention like in the case of the current Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The repeal of the current PTA has been envisaged even in the latest UNHRC resolution adopted on Sri Lanka. European Union has also called for the repeal of it to be replaced by a new law that complies with international standards and norms as one of the requirements for Sri Lanka to qualify for GSP + trade facility in accessing the markets in the region of European Union.
The government introduced the ATB previously but revised following criticism by the western countries which urged the incorporation of views from civil society organizations. However, these countries are up in arms against the new version of the bill.
Earlier, U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, in her meeting with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry also inquired about the content of the new version of the ATB. The U.S. also notes the bill with concerns despite it being an improvement of the previous version. (Kelum Bandara)