23 September, 2020

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A Counter-Terrorism Law To Stifle Democracy & To Foster Terrorism

By Mahinda Rajapaksa

Mahinda Rajapaksa

One of the pledges given by the present government to their foreign masters through UN Human Rights Council Resolution No: 30/1 of October 2015 was to repeal and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979. The draft counter terrorism law that has been presented to Parliament for this purpose has encountered opposition from political and media activists on the grounds that the way it defines the term ‘terrorism’ leaves room for legitimate political and trade union action as well as the dissemination of information and protection of sources by the media to be labelled as terrorist activity. In the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings, the government has been trying to sell their Counter Terrorism Bill to the public with the claim that it has provisions to prohibit Sri Lankan nationals from having links with foreign terrorist organisations. 

While the government’s proposed law is tough on ordinary citizens by having provisions that can be used to stifle political dissent and the freedom of expression, it is designed to treat terrorists with the utmost leniency to the extent where its actual effect will be that of protecting and giving encouragement to terrorists – not countering terrorism. Our Penal Code prescribes the death penalty for killing just one person, but under the proposed counter terrorism law, a terrorist convicted of killing hundreds of or even thousands of people can only be given a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Furthermore while the Penal Code prescribes the death penalty for aiding and abetting in murder, the penalty for aiding and abetting in mass murder in the proposed law is just fifteen years imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs. one million. How is terrorism to be deterred by giving convicted terrorists lesser punishments than what the ordinary law of the land prescribes for the same offences?  

The proposed counter terrorism law also requires the police and the armed forces to treat terrorist suspects with the utmost solicitude. If a terrorist suspect is arrested by the armed forces, he has to be handed over to the OIC of the nearest police station within 24 hours. The latter has to examine him for injuries and present him before a JMO for treatment or a report. The Human Rights Commission has to be informed within 24 hours of the arrest so that they can determine whether the arrest has infringed the fundamental rights of the suspect. When a terrorist suspect is arrested, the arresting officer has to reveal his identity to the suspect and the suspect’s next of kin or associates despite a history in this country of terrorists having massacred entire families of armed forces personnel. The next of kin of terrorist suspects have to be provided ‘reasonable’ access to the suspect in a situation where today, the next of kin may well be the next suicide bomber coming to receive instructions. From the time of the arrest, the welfare of the terrorist suspect takes precedence over everything else. 

All arrested suspects have to be produced before a Magistrate within 48 hours and the Magistrate is required by law to personally look into the well-being and welfare of the suspect. A suspect can be kept in detention only for two weeks and if this period can be extended only with the approval of a Magistrate. The total period of detention of a suspect cannot exceed eight weeks. Under the PTA in contrast, a suspect can be kept in detention for three months and this can be extended up to a total of eighteen months. A suspect arrested under the proposed counter terrorism law can be held in remand without instituting criminal proceedings for six months and this period may be extended for another six months on an order of the High Court. If criminal proceedings are not instituted within this extended period, the suspect will have to be granted bail. Under the PTA however, a suspect can be kept in remand until the conclusion of the trial. The proposed counter terrorism law requires the Human Rights Commission and the Magistrates to make unannounced visits to all places of detention and remand to look into the welfare of terrorist suspects and they have to ensure that the suspects are provided all the basic facilities. If the trial against a person remanded under this Act has not been concluded within one year, the High Court is mandatorily required to release the accused on bail.

Even at the trial stage, terrorist suspects are afforded special relief. The proposed law states that ‘if death or grievous bodily injury has not been caused’ or ‘if the security of the State has not been seriously affected’ by the suspect’s actions, and he displays contrition by among other things, publicly expressing remorse, providing reparations to victims and participating in a rehabilitation programme, the Attorney General may either suspend criminal proceedings or withdraw the indictment altogether. How can a person who has harmed no one and not endangered the security of the State end up being arrested and prosecuted under a counter terrorism law? In practice, it is very difficult to collect sufficient evidence against a terrorism suspect largely because of the unsettled conditions that would be prevailing in the country. If a terrorist suspect is arrested and charged in court but is still incongruously deemed to have ‘not caused any harm to anyone’ or ‘endangered the security of the country’ that would only be due to the lack of evidence and not because he has not committed the crime he is accused of.

The proposed counter terrorism law acknowledges this reality by requiring an accused person to express remorse for something he is not supposed to have done and even pay reparations to victims he is not supposed to have harmed, before the Attorney General suspends or withdraws the indictment against him. Such bizarre provisions in the draft counter terrorism law is an acknowledgement of the practical difficulties in prosecuting terrorism suspects under the ordinary law which requires a high evidentiary bar. Most often what can be achieved through anti-terrorist legislation is the suppression of terrorism rather than prosecution and punishment of terrorists, which is why such laws have to be tough enough to enable its primary purpose to be achieved. There is no argument about the fact that the Prevention of Terrorism Act introduced by the UNP government in 1979 is a tough law. But we have had to deal with the most ruthless terrorists the world has ever seen and that would not have been possible if not for such laws.     

Even in sentencing a terrorist after conviction under the proposed counter terrorism law, a reduced sentence can be handed down after considering mitigating factors such as a public denunciation of terrorism, provision of reparations to the victims and a public denouncement of violence etc. The government’s proposed counter terrorism law is in fact a comprehensive relief package for terrorists. If the proposed Counter Terrorism Bill is passed into law, it will seriously hamper ongoing efforts to suppress terrorism following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks. Since this country is once again confronted with terrorism, the government should be prevented from making any changes to the Public Security Ordinance of 1947 or the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979. Priority should be given to the people’s right to life over the rights of terrorists.

*Mahinda Rajapaksa –Leader of the Opposition

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Latest comments

  • 14
    6

    Dear CT,
    I really can not understand the reason for publishing these crap from a bogus Lawyer, President (2009 after stealing SF’s ballot Papers), PM and now a by-force Leader of the JO and a world class fraudster.
    You are loosing credibility from people for sure..

    • 2
      0

      Before making a comment about the Pro-Terrorist Act, I have a word for parents.
      Whatever the government says, don’t send children to schools as yet.
      There was a case where a large number of ammunition were hidden in a bag in school premises. In another case two Muslims have entered a school on the sly. An Iraq born journalist working in India has tried to enter a school by force. There could be other cases too.
      I don’t think there will be any bomb attacks again.
      However, going by the raids and their astonishing findings of weaponry of all sorts, I think it is better to keep children at home for another week.

      • 1
        0

        This Act should be named as “Pro-terrorist Act,” not “Anti-terrorist.”
        Instead of discouraging terrorism, it has offered a wide range of facilities and royal treatment to terrorists.
        Even under the previous tough PTA, some judges have given different judgement.
        For an example; the two hardcore LTTE air tigers who killed 14 and destroyed 10 aircraft in Anuradhapura air force base attack were given only 5-year imprisonment while a soldier who killed an officer for not approving vacation was given death penalty by the same judge.
        This new Pro-terrorist Act might even approve compensation for terrorists “for their savagery.”
        This is only a pledge given to TNA and Tamil diaspora by the Yahapalana government in 2015 in protection of Tamil tigers who are in custody, in exile and also future tiger cubs.
        After the recent Muslim terrorist attack with the full knowledge of the slave government, now there is an “added necessity” for them to protect Muslim terrorist suspects too, who are in custody.
        Overall, this Act is to protect the “rights” of terrorists and “relax” the law towards them, which is absurd.
        Moreover, it has anti-subversion laws to suppress political opposition.
        Is this the need of the hour? Of course, not.
        After experiencing 9 suicide attacks within few hours in one day, Sri Lanka should go for TOUGHER LAWS to eliminate Tamil and Muslim terrorism forever.
        When it is time to be firm in strengthening the security of the country with counter-terrorism laws, the murderous government is in a hurry to “protect the rights” of bloody terrorists.
        Sri Lanka should in fact grant “Right to Move” to Sri Lanka Army so that they can take swift action against terrorists without waiting for political hierarchy.
        Needless to say, this Pro-terrorist Act should NOT EVEN BE ALLOWED TO TAKE UP in Parliament.

        • 1
          1

          “When a terrorist suspect is arrested, the arresting officer has to reveal his identity to the suspect and the suspect’s next of kin or associates despite a history in this country of terrorists having massacred entire families of armed forces personnel. “
          Is Ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa referring to the same terrorists in whose defence a much younger Mahinda Rajapaksa MP went to Geneva?
          Curiouser and curiouser, or is MR’s ghostwriter losing his marbles?

          • 0
            1

            Old Codger, this is MR’s ghost writer for sure.

            Apart from throwing stones at mango trees down Thurstan Road, MR didnt profit any, from his schooling.

            He may fool some of the people all of the time but NOT all of the people all of the time. Neither will GL.

  • 5
    3

    In Sri Lanka, most terrorists wear a uniform.
    Many citizens taken into custody are tortured, and deaths in custody are common.
    These have been verified by visiting UN Rapporteurs.
    Some citizens arrested, are never released, and are called “Political Prisoners” and their kith and kin are not allowed to visit them.
    Many of those arrested and released after so-called ‘rehabilitation’ are compelled to “report” on fellow citizens for “suspicious activity” endangering the state, on threat of re-arrest for imagined infringements of the law.

    State Terrorism is an unpleasant reality in this Blessed Isle.
    State Terrorists – known by other designations – are now encouraged by the state to adhere to “Good Conduct” and are rewarded for same, by the Good Conduct Allowance – in the recent National Budget.

    • 3
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      Justice,

      So according to you it was men in uniform, who attacked the Remple of the tooth in Kandy, the Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, killed vilagers in Padaviya, Chidren in school buses, attacked the Fort Railway station, or bombed he Katunayake Airport, the central Bank (not the recent Bond Scam by your bretheren living in Singapore), conscrpiting under age children to an illegal army, expulson of Moslems living in the Northern Province with 24h notice, etc, etc.

      According to others all such activities resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries to innocents were plotted and carried out by a terrorist named Prabhakaran -probably a Maha Veeran.to you.

      Like you some who defended terrorist acts perpetrated by the LTTE were also TNA MPs including the ex leader of the opposition. If the terrorists were in uniform, why did the TNA demand the so called “Sinhala” Armed Forces to protect them from LTTE bombers. They still have them providing them security.

  • 7
    4

    This is worst man who completely ruin the whole political system in Sri Lanka.
    Mahinda and his family must be responsible for this whole chaos.

  • 2
    4

    I hope and pray that Sri Lankan judiciary act impartially in this issue. Sri Lanka needs some impartial legal system to provide unconditional justice. I hate any politicians who interfere in Sri Lankan judiciary: One of the best thing about western political tradition is that politicians do not pervert the course of justice. Even if their children did a mistake, children must pay the price. That is a beauty of western politics. How long it could take us to implement such a system to provide unconditional justice : you can not have one set of justice for Tamils and another for Sinhalese, one for Muslims and another for Christians : The rule of law must be one for all. otherwise. judges become play boys to play around by political leaders, that is all what happened in SL in recent time. So sorry to see this. It could undermine our legal system, our legal studies. and it is bad for all legal professional. Legal professionals have to read the cases, find the rationales. and made a logical case in submission to defend their clients ..All this will go into dust bins if political leaders pervert the course of justice. The culprits or guilty become becomes innocent and innocents will become guilt in this way of perverting the course of justice. If you continue to do this, sky will open its punishment, because, people can not do anything about it. So, God will stand with innocent to punish political leaders, I know that MR is good man. He knows laws but he was mislead by some crooks in his second term. So sorry for him. I think is one of capable leaders we have now. But, people around him are bad. He is a soft and kind man. People around him used him a lot . That destroyed his reputation locally and internationally: In politics people around you could do a lot of good and bad. This is a classic example to learn..

  • 8
    3

    anonymous – Both the father and his Mongol son are synthetic “lowyers” of the lowest calibre. What is more, Medamulana Meeharaka is NOT the author of this article and the readers know that?

  • 1
    0

    No one is talking. the problem is how many pacts have signed with MCC. The latest one to be signed or they asking look ridiculous. Evey Sri lankan simply become an American citizen for the american LAw. And Anuradhapura and Kurunegala become part of the Tamil eelam.

  • 3
    2

    Its not who wrote the article MIKE… but the contents.
    Would you amend the PTA at this juncture?
    From PTA to CTA for whose benefit or who benefits?
    Address these issues.

  • 3
    2

    “The government’s proposed counter terrorism law is in fact a comprehensive relief package for terrorists.”
    Whether it is Governments counter terrorism act or prevention of terrorism act are real benefit package for Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalists who run the whole act of terror in ordinary Civilians whether it is Sinhala or Tamil or Muslim.

  • 0
    1

    I thin k it is important the Majority Sinhala buddhists keeps mouths shut while all others engage in Terrorism and they are saved by the UNHCR and International community.
    Some people complain why the previous govt, Yahapalana and present UNP national govt was silent on muslims including rishad Bathiuddin, Azath Sally, Mujibar Rahaman and the present Muslims affairs minister who is a muslim.

  • 0
    2

    West is now the breeding ground for terrorism. Where atheism is on the rise, will always be better for them.
    ..
    People will argue most wars were done in the name of religion and it’s true.
    ..
    Atheism was on the rise from the middle 19th century. 20th century we killed more humans than all 19 together.
    ..
    It’s continuing in a big way now. Buddha explained a bullock cart cannot go further only with one wheel, where knowledge is one.
    ..
    But with 2 wheels, where spiritual strength is the second, will go further.
    ..
    No law can stop terrorism, it will grow with greed for money. Only way forward is educating our children with a sound spiritual background.
    ..
    Aethism kills our pledge to be morally upright. Taking our freedom away will only make the matters worse.

  • 1
    1

    It would have been really nice if Dr Ranil,and his Legal Experts, Mangala, Abraham and Dr Jayampathy had those Terrorist friendly Legislation enacted before Easter..

    Wouldn’t it?…

    Wonder whether PC Weliyamaunne also offer Legal Advice to Dr Ranil?..

  • 1
    0

    The Counter Terrorist Act that proposed by UNP right -wing politics are Counter Revolutionary act by 2015/1/8 by Wickramasinghe of UNP Neoliberal policies turn into by name of “Good Governance” and “Rule of Law” political hypocrisy .Every time,that every step taken by UNP since 1948 came-out that so-called political slogans like “Rule of Dharmist” JRJ -UNP 1977.
    These unwell leadership of Wickramasinghe that UNP of Neoliberalism has failure to deliver nothing except corruption and dismantle unitary natures state was their political priority .Four year and half 2015/1/8 UNP has been created man-made disasters to the nation which was undermined peace was brought by MR and alliance 2009 May 19th.

    That is why CTA is end of game to suppressed Fundamental Right of citizens by postpone Key Election by UNP leadership indefinitely .CTA aim of put those who an opposed UNP-one man party-rule of RW that wanted put into Jail by court of Law. Nevertheless the counter -revolution bill of CTA is or will give legitimacy all evelis acts of Wicjkamasinghe by covered operation behind the Parliamentary sovereignty.
    The UNP leaders has lost all credibility and confidence among largest majority of voters of Sri lanka.
    We are for democracy of Islanders, but not for any political cornies. As citizens of Lanka an opposed Counter Terrorist Act….proposed by counter revolutionary party that by UNP of Wicks.

  • 3
    1

    It is disgusting to see this mongol paksha in this website. CTA does weaken the rights of the people than PTA. When the legislators interfere with investigative arm or law enforcement bodies, what is PTA? He could not prevent murderous culture of Gota. Preaching nonsense. Uneducated are gullible.

  • 1
    0

    MR old pal
    You seem to be upset that terrorists are treated leniently while common murders are not. I am not a legal expert but my understanding is, whilst most terrorists are misguided, & a bunch of brainwashed sad individuals, very often social rejects who found a sense of belonging among religious fanatics & commit murder in the belief that it is expected as true believers of that faith, whereas, ‘common’ murders would commit the crime for personal benefit or gratification. Now would you consider a rampaging mob of sinhala buddhists, spurred on by an equally fanatical leader like Gnanasara with similar hateful speeches inciting violence, are any better than the muslim fanatics & deserve the same treatment? When the JVP carried out similar murders of innocent people, if I remember correctly, you even went to Geneva, a most commendable act, to highlight the plight of JVP combatants, as well as, innocent people who were caught up in the uprising, suffering in the hands of the very armed forces you now refer to as war heros. Now you seem to have a different view of terrorists.
    I do not condone the death penalty, & as a Buddhist country, as claimed, SL should not have the death penalty but life imprisonment instead, which I think is far a worse penalty than death. If we are to accept Buddhist teachings, we should remember that even ‘Angulimala’, a serial killer, was treated with compassion by the Buddha. A murder, whether committed by terrorists for political or ideological beliefs or by an individual for personal reasons, is a crime but all suspects, until proven guilty, should have the same right to humane treatment whilst in custody. It has been established, particularly, those in the custody of the security forces have been subjected to torture & inhuman treatment, & also, it is the police who maintain law & order with the armed forces assisting in times of heightened violence & rioting.

  • 0
    0

    This terrorist act is like the Foreign exchange control act of Penthouse RAvi which legalized money laundering, and allowed to release VIP foreign exchange fraudsters.. while this treat local terrorists leniently, it may influence foreigner hands to send foreign terrorists or even innocent muslims to sri lanka, arrest them question them within the two months, SO, if the muslim is innocent we make some enemies who will actually support Muslim terrorism in Sri lanka. Again a foreign handlers can save Sri lankan terrorists.West had foreign cells in Eastern Europe which brought foreign Terrorists and had them questioned inhumanely in those govt cells. that can happen in Sri lanka as that happened to some of the Arab Prisoners.

  • 0
    0

    USA hegemonist of Imperlaist are that accountability ongoing products of ISIS by USA. Its has created a ISIS was key by products of terrorist -outfit of Globelly in land Iraq’s soil.
    I would like quoted from Dr Joseph Stiglitz wrote of what has been happen an invaded of Iraq…..immediately after 9/11 by USA.

    ” By now it is clear that US invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake. Nearly 4000 US troops have been killed and more than 58,000,have been wounded ,injured or fallen seriously ill. A further 7300 troops have been wounded or injured or fallen seriously ill in Afghanistan.”

    While he said that…” Miserable though Saddam Hussein’s regime was,life is actually worse for the Iraq for the Iraq People now.The country roads ,schools,hospitals, homes,and museums have been destroyed and its citizens have less access to electricity and water than before the war.” The result of that Sectarian violence is rift. Iraq’s chaos has made the country a magnet for the Terrorists of all stripes.The notion that invading Iraq would bring democracy and catalyze change in the Middle East now seems like a fantasy.”
    In at last of few words of US invade Iraq after 9/11 ” when the full price of the war has been paid ,TRILLION of Dollars will have been added to our national debt.”…War has weakened our(USA) Economy.”
    In current ISIS are 21/4 attack by local Muslim terrorist an open new front of War politics an Island by UNP leadership of Wickranasinge clan .

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