21 June, 2024

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Lawyers Collective Condemns The Recent Anti-Terrorism & Online Safety Bills

The Lawyers’ Collective condemns the latest version of the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the Online Safety Bill gazetted in September 2023. The Government of Sri Lanka has failed to respond to the serious and fundamental concerns raised about the Anti-Terrorism Bill gazetted in March this year. The government also failed to adopt any transparent and accountable process through which the Bills were explained, justified and robust public consultation facilitated before they were gazetted. The definitions adopted for ‘terrorism’ and ‘false statement’, and related offences created under the two Bills are excessively broad and vague, and thus do not represent a measured and proportionate means of serving specific and necessary law and order objectives. 

Indeed, the Anti-Terrorism and Online Safety Bills represent an attempt to institutionalise excessive executive discretionary power over a broad range of ordinary activities of the citizens of Sri Lanka.  At a time when the country’s democracy quotient is at a historical low, attempts to rush into enactment dangerous laws that have a high potential to crush dissent and curb civil liberties causes much alarm. Citizens of this country are currently making a wide range of demands on their elected representatives and government officials in the context of the deep economic crisis and the bearing it has on their lives.

Democracy demands that the widest possible space be created at this time to hear citizens’ grievances and to engage citizens and citizen groups, especially vulnerable communities. The intolerance represented by the two proposed laws towards legitimate dissent, critique, opposition and organising around different ideas and solutions for governance in Sri Lanka is a direct threat to democracy, civil liberties and the role of the judiciary in protecting citizens’ sovereignty against executive capture. 

Sri Lankan recent history is marked by terrible violence and social and economic devastation caused by repressive approaches to unrest and inequality in our society and polity. Having emerged from decades of war and violent insurrection, the government and opposition parties would be mindful of the responsibility that they bear towards the current and future citizens of this country. In this moment, the legal profession has a role and responsibility to act to safeguard people’s treasured freedoms. 

The Lawyers’ Collective calls for the immediate withdrawal of the two Bills. The Collective also calls for the adoption of a transparent process of consultative law making and the proposal of executive and legal measures that are proportionate and responsive to the needs of the people. The Collective demands that the government desist from enacting laws that will harm the very foundations of democracy in Sri Lanka. Such laws that grant the executive excessive powers to curtail citizen’s fundamental rights to freedom of expression and thought, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and liberty erode the sovereignty of the people that is the very basis of Sri Lanka’s constitution.

On behalf of the Lawyers’ Collective

Mr. Rienzie Arsecularatne, President’s Counsel.

Mr. Upul Jayasuriya, President’s Counsel

Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel

Mr. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, President’s Counsel

Mr. Dinal Phillips, President’s Counsel

Mr. Saliya Pieris, President’s Counsel

Mr. Lal Wijenayake, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Upul Kumarapperuma, Attorney-at-Law

K.W. Janaranjana, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Nuwan Bopege, Attorney-at-Law

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Whether it is Prevention of Terrorism Act or current anti Terrorism Bill do not punish the terror of state terrorism as it is proven undoubtedly for the past 40 decades especially after Easter Bombing by the Sinhala President, Sinhala Prime Minister, Sinhala military.. Unless, this country devolve powers to North East Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lankan Muslims and Sri Lankan Up country Tamils with the same powers in the Bill or Act.

    • 1
      2

      “past 40 decades “
      Wow, from Dutch times!

      • 0
        2

        or rather late Portuguese?

    • 2
      0

      “Unless, this country devolve powers to North East Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lankan Muslims and Sri Lankan Up country Tamils “
      That is a most welcome attitude.

  • 3
    1

    Former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa truly relished anti-democratic and obnoxious laws and played instrumental roles in enacting such laws, which included expanding executive powers. I thought when Ranil Wickremasinghe became president these things will change because he was a much better educated person than the Medamulana thugs. But he has turned out to be just like his uncle JRJ who was also very fond of laws such as the PTA, the 6th Amendment to the Constitution, adoption of the executive presidency, etc. There is no difference at all among the propensity of these four persons for making offensive laws. I think it is an ethnic affliction – it is in their blood!

    • 1
      0

      CM,
      .
      When people fall into the clutches of the predatory media mafia, they are dumber than they appear, and a country cannot choose its leaders easily. News for the media is not the truth or even close to the truth.
      Look back at how people’s emotions paved the way for Gotas or lowlives to become leaders in Sri Lanka. In the past this was not possible because people were guided by wise Buddhist monks and good leaders.

      However, in the last 20 years, Sri Lanka has been destroyed by thugs led by thugs. But today they are still in power or are making every effort to mislead the nation for another journey. i HAVE no doubt, our people would hate DA Rajapakshe giving birth to bastard sons that ruined the future of this nation. They grabed the full credit of a war victory which nobody would declare as a victory. That alone proved the mlechcha-state of Rajapkshes.

      The main stream media intends rascals to stay in “stupid mode” forever, as it is, so they can reap more on their selfish gains.

  • 2
    0

    It’s very nice of Native Vedda to lend clothes from his own cross-dressing wardrobe to this man ………. but a very good interview nevertheless ……… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEAKqri50lY

    He admits and acknowledges his mistakes …… stupidest one was holding that Rathana guy’s hand during his never-dying fast-unto-death stunt! How stupid can one be? It looks like he has learnt his lesson.

    Whatever his faults …….. he acted quickly and decisively …… and saved a lot of lives and quelled violence against the Muslims soon after the Easter Bombings. It would be churlish of me or anyone not to acknowledge ……

    Hope he keeps it up and encourage a new set of young leaders to emerge …….. so the current septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, centenarians and beyond ……. in the parliament who have given nothing but selfless yeomen service to the nation can retire and rest in peace.

    Nivan Suppa Labeva!

    Wonder why that’s a very common comment/wish in all the YouTube clips.

    • 3
      2

      nimal fernando

      “How stupid can one be? It looks like he has learnt his lesson.”

      It appears like many others in 2019, you too are rushing to recommend a Nobel Peace Prize for the cross dresser.
      How old is he to make mistakes and then his office saying he didn’t mean it and changed his mind due to heavy bollocking from his own flock and priests?
      “http://srilankabrief.org/2018/10/we-are-shocked-at-some-of-your-recent-comments-group-of-catholics-tell-malcolm-cardinal-ranjith/)

      Remember he is not a politician but he is practicing a vocation where one needs to be careful what he (your new friend) utters.
      Please listen this clip:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVSB1z9G-u0

      Malcom said:
      “According to the religious teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church, marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. God’s Word says that man and woman shall unite in marriage and procreate, which is also the natural order.
      In that light, lesbian and homosexual unions cannot be allowed. These people [LGB community] could be defective and cannot overcome this problem [homosexuality] due to shortcomings in their conduct and upbringing. While we must treat people facing this problem with empathy, we cannot allow them to be married”.
      https://www.change.org/p/cardinal-malcolm-ranjith-cardinal-malcolm-ranjith-homosexuality-is-not-a-human-defect-equal-rights-not-sympathy

    • 1
      0

      nimal fernando

      The cross dresser has changed his mind yet again.
      Now he says there is no need for an international investigation for Easter Attack if responsible officials could be found to do the job without any political interference.

      There you go,………………

      Did you have a word with him?

      • 2
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        “Now he says there is no need for an international investigation for Easter Attack if responsible officials could be found to do the job without any political interference.”

        Native,

        That’s what he has been saying all along . ………. Just because your hero Ranil will never instigate a proper investigation ……. you want to shift the blame to someone else. Typical behaviour of a Lankan.

        If we want to change Lanka …… we have to first change ourselves. Develop the ability to identify and then face the truth. Not fear it and create a false narrative of one’s own ……. to one’s own liking.


        There is no need for an international investigation ……. if our authorities/institutions are allowed to do the investigation without interference. ……. Can it be more simple than that?

  • 0
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    Dear all mighty
    Just leave us alone you and i(we) so different to many ways.list may be big.but ultimately our/your hearts and minds are so different
    Just split all in one roof ,we do our matters in our own way,we may looks same but we are tottaly different.
    .
    But don’t assume we all behind VP but that’s not true its your product likewise he killed so many people along with so many leaders of both sides.
    .
    There is a issue Muslims being chased out from Jaffna so we (elite or not all tamils) were forcefully to leave from their own home by our guardians angels we were made to homeless and find shelters and shattered.
    .
    Then he didn’t go alone ……he took along with him as much as he could..
    .
    Stop all these laws/consultation etc just make make us live peacefully .

    I respect the Muslims keep the Tamil alive in hot cities also hoping honest stateless hard working neglected up country relentlessly keep the name Ceylon tea in the world market..
    .
    Sadly they are not even entailed to apply for US lottery visa too.200 yrs of sweat
    .
    If Rama Buddha Allah ….can safe guard?
    .

  • 4
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    These lawyers are very much a part of the problem !

    In Sri Lanka lawyers are considered exploiters without any professional standards.

    Almost all of them have dreams of doing politics and use the profession only to come to parliament. If not parliament they manipulate to get high jobs in the country like ambassador or chairmanships in government institutions. Several lawyer/politicians have been uncovered as crooks !

    We have had so many politicians who are lawyers. If they are any good the country will not be what it is now.

    Unlike in the UK, they also don’t. look very professional . It is very funny to watch them wearing winter clothes ( coats and wigs) in a very hot country , call their judges Lords and Queens counsel . British traditions have no meaning in this failed culture. It is copycat

    The biggest joke is that very few of them , Lord and lawyer, speak good English.

    • 1
      1

      “In Sri Lanka lawyers are considered exploiters without any professional standards.”
      Professional standards? There are very competent lawyers around. Actually, as in medicine and engineering, most jobs do not demand very high levels of skill.
      The problem is ethics.
      There are ethical norms for each profession, when professions/careers get commercialized profit motive gets the better of performance, and we see serious lapses.
      It happens the world over but are worse in the absence of monitoring bodies.

  • 4
    1

    “Several lawyer/politicians have been uncovered as crooks !”
    One of them is Lawyer and Minister Ali-Sabri. He was the right hand for Gota helping in various ways possibly even in Easter Bombing. Now he is the left hand for Ranil Wickremasinghe andnow he spend most of his time in foregin nations and now he attends all USA foregin affairs meeting with his sons who are in USA.

    • 1
      1

      “He was the right hand for Gota helping in various ways possibly even in Easter Bombing.”
      The super detective is in action!

  • 4
    0

    There is a discernible “goday” quality to most of our professionals.

    Same with architects, doctors, trying to be something they are not culturally suitable.

    I suppose this happens when one culture uses ideas developed in another very different culture.

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