Sri Lanka Minister Allays Fears On Anti-terrorism Bill
The Sri Lankan government is aware of the concerns raised over certain provisions of the Anti-terrorism Bill and is ready to alleviate them, says Justice Minister Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. The bill, which has generated a lot of controversy, will replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) passed in 1979 under President J.R. Jayewardene’s rule as a temporary measure to counter insurgency. The PTA, branded as a draconian piece of legislation, has been misused by successive governments since then for political advantage, the minister said. The Bill gives greater powers to law enforcement agencies to arrest anyone or seize articles on mere suspicion. Those opposing it fear it could be used by political opponents by branding any dissent as acts of terrorism. “If there are any provisions in the Anti-terrorism Bill that restrict the rights of the people, their freedom and democracy, the government is more than happy to address them. Besides, any citizen, political party or organization is free to challenge the Bill in the Supreme Court once I table it in Parliament,” Minister Rajapakshe emphasized, reports Daily Mirror.