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Anti-Terrorism Bill unveiled: Government faces criticism despite revisions

11 January 2024 09:53 am - 13     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana

After much wrangling with the sections of the international community and civil society activists, the government yesterday presented the Anti-Terrorism Bill to be enacted in repeal of the current draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA).

The PTA was introduced way back in 1979 as a temporary piece of legislation, and it was invoked widely particularly during the conflict times including the war against LTTE terrorism. After the end of the war, the successive governments came under pressure from the international community including the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC), civil society organizations, trade unions and human rights activists to repeal it. The latest UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka also envisaged a provision to repeal it.

However, the government worked out the new bill which also drew flak from the same groups with the allegation that the new piece of legislation also contains draconian provisions. Later, the government, in consultation with the stakeholders concerned, redrafted the bill and presented it to the House for debate and enactment later. According to the PTA, a suspect could be held under detention order by the defence secretary for three months, but it has been reduced to two months in the new bill which is now pending enactment . The magistrates are empowered to grant bail to suspects held without a detention order.

The definition of terrorism has been broadened in the new bill to cover remarks made using electronic and print media instigating acts of violence.

The new Anti-Terrorism Bill which was presented to Parliament yesterday provides provisions to the President to proscribe any organization, issue restrictions of movement of individuals, declare any location as a prohibited place and comprises new procedures with regard to curfew. According to the new bill, a confession made before a police officer is not admissible in a court of law as evidence whereas it was the case in the PTA. Any arrest made by the police, the military or the coast guard should be handed over to the police within 24 hours.

The new bill Section 79 of the Bill provides provisions for the President to proscribe an organization notwithstanding anything in any written law if an organization is engaged in any act, or acting in an unlawful manner prejudicial to national security of Sri Lanka or any other country. Proscription order may be made by the President on recommendation made by IGP or any foreign country.

The President will be vested with powers to issue restriction orders on individuals following the recommendation of IGP and if he has reasonable grounds to believe that any person has committed or making preparation to committee an offense under the Anti-terrorism Bill. A restriction order may include restrictions on the movement outside the place of residence, traveling overseas, traveling within Sri Lanka and traveling between residence and place of employment. However there are provisions to revoke or vary the order.

The international community, particularly European Countries, are still concerned about the broad definition of terrorism. They are also concerned whether critical views of civil society were taken into consideration.


  Comments - 13

  • Ranil rajapaksa criminal syndicate Thursday, 11 January 2024 10:24 AM

    Why not rename it anti government opponent bill?

    Sokrates Thursday, 11 January 2024 10:31 AM

    Could be a Russian, Iranian or Chinese law. A law for a rogue state but not for a democratic country.

    The SL Public Thursday, 11 January 2024 10:40 AM

    This government is destroying all key aspects of democracy. Elections have been postponed. Now trying to brutally limit freedom expression. International organisations and donor agencies should exert the maximum pressure against this. Why is IMF is not pressurising them enough? No sustainable economic development cannot be achieved without basic human rights being protected. Trust they are not willfully blind!

    Harin Fernando Thursday, 11 January 2024 10:44 AM

    Capital kotiraja that aided burning of Ranil's house may be worried.

    Natalie Nanayaka Thursday, 11 January 2024 10:45 AM

    Another bill to protect the Ranil rajapaksa criminals from prosecution.

    Navin Perera Thursday, 11 January 2024 10:47 AM

    Connie Chang take note of these draconian bills and consider this when allocating aid.

    DICTATOR IN THE MAKING WITH A VENGENCE Thursday, 11 January 2024 11:03 AM

    BEWARE, ADDITIONS TO THIS BILL IS ACTUALLY TRYING TO SUPRESS CITIZENS FROM VOICEING THEIR OPINIONS ON PRINT AND MEDIA (PARA 4). GOING IN THE DIRECTION OF DICTATORSHIP LIKE SOME OTHER COMMUNIST COUNTRIES. THE BROAD DEFINITION BROUGHT IN IS SIMPLY TOO SILENT THOSE SPEAKING OUT AGAINST THE RULING GOVERNMENT AND TO PREVENT A PROTEST REPETATION OF "GOTA GO HOME".

    Sanghamuttu Palanhatti Thursday, 11 January 2024 11:26 AM

    Save all politicians - paas all bills protecting them before another ARAGALA for PIMPI RW as for PIN Gon DONKY GoRa and No flying KAPUTA and SEVALA MYNA!

    Neel Ahmed Thursday, 11 January 2024 01:09 PM

    If they pass the this bill it will be the disaster for the all Srilankan', its clear that Dealdasa( minister of justice) try keep the power for ever. All the cabinet members and Pohttuwa members will support pass the bill

    DD Thursday, 11 January 2024 01:45 PM

    Government GILMART, citizens are watching.

    dinesh Thursday, 11 January 2024 03:18 PM

    firstling bring a bill that is so shamefully obvious what the intention is about...then when challenged do some frill changes to try and get it passed...dont worry all these games only for a short while more.....

    Senura Thursday, 11 January 2024 06:04 PM

    Save the criminals. Punish the citizens. Great plan by Ranil Rajapakshe

    Meharakge Mynapala Friday, 12 January 2024 08:04 AM

    let all MPs have many parties through Public money - Let poor people die without food or medicine! Once they protest use WATER cannon! People have no water to drink as it is too expensive!


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