Sri Lanka’s court okays controversial anti-terror bill with reforms
Posted on February 20th, 2024

Courtesy LaPrensalatina

Colombo, Feb 20 (EFE).- Sri Lanka’s highest court has given its approval to a contentious anti-terrorism bill in a long-awaited verdict that calls for the removal of several unconstitutional provisions in the proposed legislation amid national and international pressure.

Following legal challenges, the bill is now slated for approval by parliament, House Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation aims to replace a previous law criticized by human rights organizations as draconian and excessively restrictive.

However, concerns persist regarding potential rights violations, given the bill’s similarities to previously withdrawn versions, as highlighted by the UN in a recent statement.

The UN cautioned that if enacted in its current form, the bill would confer excessive powers to the executive, lacking adequate safeguards against abuse and potentially undermining legal protections necessary for security forces to arrest individuals without warrants.

Swasthika Arulingam, one of the lawyers who appeared on behalf of petitioners including trade unions, peasant movements, and a journalist association said that the bill was really bad.”

The proposed law introduces provisions allowing the military to make arrests even in the absence of a declared emergency, a significant departure from previous practices, said the lawyer.

The definition is very broad. Anyone and any act can be an act of terror. Some provisions target journalists too. This is very worrying,” Swasthika said. EFE

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