AG’s position weakened – GL SLPP tears into govt. over new Counter Terrorism Bill
Posted on February 26th, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris, yesterday, alleged that the proposed Counter Terrorism Bill would encourage those still pursuing a separatist agenda.

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Instead of countering the threat of terrorism, it would definitely facilitate the terrorism project, the former External Affairs Minister told a media briefing at Nelum Mawatha Office of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Prof. Peiris regretted that the incumbent government was purposely undermining national security.

Prof. Peiris said that the proposed Counter Terrorism Bill was being introduced in place of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in compliance with the Geneva Resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in Oct 2015. In March, 2017, Geneva granted Sri Lanka two more years to fully implement its UNHRC obligations including the abolition of the PTA, Prof. Peiris said, alleging that the proposed law was meant to protect terrorists and those promoting terrorism.

Prof. Peiris challenged the architects of the new Bill to explain why Section 72 empowered the Attorney General to delay serving indictment for a period of 10 years.

In terms of Section 77, if an indictment was served, it could be recalled right up to the moment of the delivering of a judgment, Prof. Peiris said. The provision for the Attorney General to accept an apology or/and offering to do community service in lieu of prosecution was nothing but a joke, the former law Professor said.

Prof. Peiris said that a statement issued following the conclusion of Sri Lanka-EU talks, Sri Lanka had reaffirmed its commitments made to implement 27 conventions on human and labour rights, environment and good governance in order to benefit from the GSP+ scheme. In this context, while acknowledging that the new draft legislation was now being considered by Parliament, the EU had reiterated the need to repeal and replace the PTA in order to bring counter-terrorism legislation in line with international standards, Prof. Peiris said.

Prof. Peiris also criticised the need for the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the IGP to be informed as regards arrests made in terms of the new law.

The new law was meant to mollycoddle terrorists, the former FM alleged. However, the proposed law could be applied selectively to target trade unions, student community and even the media, the SLPP leader said. Prof. Peiris explained how Sub Section c, d and f under Section 3 could he exploited to prosecute those opposed to the incumbent government.

Responding to a query, Prof. Peiris explained those accused of causing damage to public property or infrastructure could face terrorism charges. The SLPP leader also revealed that journalists, too, could be targeted using certain provisions on the basis of them providing information to those responsible for causing damages to public property.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the provision for remanding of a suspect in case he or she declined to answer questions violated the Article 13 Sub Article 5 of the Constitution. The new law challenged the presumption of innocence until proven guilty enshrined in Constitution, Prof. Peiris said.

One Response to “AG’s position weakened – GL SLPP tears into govt. over new Counter Terrorism Bill”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    It doesn’t matter because PTA was very rarely implemented even against world’s most ruthless terrorists!

    No PTA against Karuna, KP, Pillayan, 12,000 terrorists rehabilitated, TNA, LTTE Rump, etc.
    Why have PTA if it is not implemented!

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