The Sri Lankan Government has managed to ‘trick’ sympathetic members of the European Parliament into signifying approval for a draft Counter-Terror Act last week which is far worse than the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The CTA was proposed to replace the PTA as a better alternative as promised by the Government.
Today’s Sunday Times carries a link to the ‘leaked’ Cabinet approved draft now to be drafted as a Bill and a lead story by senior journalist Namini Wijedasa on the conflict between the draft CTA’s prohibition on the ‘gathering of confidential information’ if it adversely affects public security and the Right to Information Act of 2016. The RTI Act leaves out ‘public security’ as a ground on which to deny information.
The Government’s attempt to ‘trick’ its critics comes from unclear offences in the initial draft being secretively brought back through different language. The old draft was leaked by the Sunday Times last year but after a storm of shocked protests, its contents were revised to take out the worse parts. But those revisions are now no longer there. For example, the old offence of ‘espionage’ has been taken out but the actual content of the offence relating to ‘confidential information’ has been brought back under a different heading, linked to ‘terrorist’ or terrorist related offences.
Prominent legal commentator Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena points out that this exercise amounts to ‘lies and deception.’ Writing her regular column to the Sunday Times, she says that protections offered through the draft CTA for legitimate criticism in regard to the issue of ‘confidential information’ are totally inadequate.
Protection is given for anything published in ‘good faith’ with ‘due diligence’ and ‘for the benefit of the public in the national interest in registered print and electronic media or in any academic publication. Also, the protection will not apply if the publication is not ‘registered’ or is carried online.
Under the Cabinet approved CTA, it will be a terrorist offence to write or talk in a way that causes harm to the ‘unity, territorial integrity or sovereignty of Sri Lanka,’ It was under a similar provision in the Prevention of Terrorism Act that journalists had been jailed through politicized prosecutions in the past. Now a publication may qualify as an offence if the writer is found to lack good faith or did not observe due diligence or the publication was not in the national interest by a judge. These are ‘safeguards that provide scant protection in a dysfunctional judicial and prosecutorial process’, Pinto-Jayawardena has said. ‘Provisions that are perfectly reasonable in functional Rule of Law systems assume sinister meaning connotations here because of that reality’ she adds.
The draft CTA is due to be tabled in Parliament soon to meet the criteria for the consideration of the EU GSP Plus trade facility before the European Parliament in mid May. It has still not been formally released by the Government.
Atticus / April 30, 2017
‘Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government of India shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which a fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added, or with a fine.’
Indian Sedition law about which nobody complains. The Indian counter terrorism laws are even more draconian.
Chandra / April 30, 2017
@Atticus, I do not think that pointing to sedition laws is any defence. And of course, there have been many complaints about this and other sedition laws across the world. Did not Sri Lanka repealed its own sedition provisions many years ago after public concerns?
Similar re Indian counter terrorism laws – they have been challenged by Indian advocates.
Is the Indian Government really the example we should turn to? Look at what it is doing in Kashmir?
Sunil / April 30, 2017
this is starting to go the Rajapaksa way…
Siva / May 2, 2017
India is one of the worst human rights abusers in South East Asia and and an evil or monster created by British colonialism.
Kashmir is bleeding and agree that India is the worst example to compare their laws or constitution. India and Sri lanka are twin brothers of corruption and highly politicized environment/rule.
Aurangzeb / May 1, 2017
OK Chirisenna. Did you promise this BEFORE the election?
Plato. / April 30, 2017
The EU Parliament should immediately meet to reconsider the GSP+
jimsofty / April 30, 2017
For you LTTE rump it is big deal.
Exports to EY is only 0.1% worth $ 1.3 billion or less than one billion euros. IF Sri lanka takes the same decision, EU loses teice that amount of imports to Sri lanka.
IF the sinhale – South refuses to buy from you Tamil, what would be the outcome ?
AJ / May 1, 2017
Dont spread your Sinhale separatist ideology here, Dumb monk-ey. learnt to coexist with everybody in accordance with Buddas teaching.
Lone Wolf / May 2, 2017
“The EU Parliament should immediately meet to reconsider the GSP+”
Even if granted the GSP+ will be only for 3-4 years. What happens after that?
justice / April 30, 2017
State sponsored Terrorism, also called State Terrorism surpasses all “acts” of “terrorism” mentioned in the Act.
State Terrorism may include :- non-prosecution of offences by state personnel, eg:- for shooting dead students riding motorcycles.
Others may be:-
a) captive labour by the army in its agricultural pursuits, of persons labelled “Ex-LTTE” under threat of “rehabilitation” and/or imprisonment, b) taking away lands and homes of citizens, thus rendering them homeless and preventing their agricultural/animal husbandry pursuits, c) preventing fishermen from their livelihood by chasing them away from their seashore establishments, d) keeping citizens in refugee camps eight years after the war ended, e) compelling tuition of children by untrained women forcibly recruited as teachers, f) running hotels and businesses – not the duties of armed forces of any nation – thus preventing these lawful pursuits of citizens, g) keeping citizens arrested under the present PTA for more than ten years without prosecution in courts of law, etc.
This new Act appears to enforce the provisions of the existing PTA under the guise of “new legislation”.
Citizens cannot be fooled by this Act meant to perpetuate the undeclared Military Regime in some areas of the Republic.
Jim Softy / April 30, 2017
What else can you expect from Sinhala Budhist politicians
Fukushima / May 2, 2017
“”For you LTTE rump it is big deal.Exports to EY is only 0.1% worth $ 1.3 billion or less than one billion euros. IF Sri lanka takes the same decision, EU loses teice that amount of imports to Sri lanka.
IF the sinhale – South refuses to buy from you Tamil, what would be the outcome ? “”
sinhale is fit for goo_mole Matakkuliya-modera.
Jim you are trained at USA and are Bin Laden’s the terrorist brother.
Exports – partners:
US 26%, UK 9%, India 7.2%, Germany 4.3% (2015)
So only Germany is 4.3% while you say EU is 1% In a recent seminar held at Colombo the EU envoy said EU is Lanka’s largest trading partner.
Imports – partners:
India 24.6%, China 20.6%, UAE 7.2%, Singapore 5.9%, Japan 5.7% (2015)
Common Sense / April 30, 2017
I cannot at one go say which of the counter-terrorism laws are good and which is draconinan. The methods adopted by terrorists to bring in misery and mayhem is by simply abusing the existing social fabric of freedom. Even in UK, the so called bed-rock of fairness and democracy, a woman was simply shot reckoning that she was a danger and too risky to adopt the normal method of arrest. Strangely when they do that neither in the UK, Europe nor those Eurpeanised Sri Lankans would ever say that is barbaric whereas if it was done here the same Europeans would fault us for that. I am not going to comment whether the action was fair or foul.
The root cause for terrorism as seen in 1971 and 1988 in the south and as well as the 30 odd year war in the north is the inability to address concern of a section of population affected by the existing social fabric. However, that cannot be an excuse to terrorise the whole population. Once the acts of terrorism commence it becomes a business itself loosing the sight of the cause. It is for that reason that any existing terrorism must be swiftly stamped out and immediately address the concerns that caused it.
Chandra / May 1, 2017
@CommmonSense. Yes, true. But deterrent laws must be well drafted as otherwise, they are used by Gvts to repress. Tha has been Sri Lanka’s history for the past forty years when the PTA was used to repress Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.
Have we earnt NOTHING from the past?
This is apparently worse than the PTA. What if beloved Gota comes to power in 2020? He will pounce on this in glee. Something that his brother could not do, these yahapalanaya dumb-wits have done and left it for him like a nice gift parcel!
Common Sense / May 4, 2017
Unfortunately, Chandra, leave alone Anti-Terrorism laws, even other laws are abused by those in power. This is a problem all of us in the so called developing world have to live with. The British had the Internal Security Act for their colonies in Singapore and Malaysia where a person could be detained without trial. when they left the territories that remained in their statute books. We all know that the detainees of the operation cold store carries out in 1963 when Singapore was a part of Malaysia were only released almost 30 years later. Such is the might of power which can never be right.
Chandra / May 4, 2017
@CommonSense,I take your point. But bad counter-terror laws have greater potential for abuse than other laws. That is the danger.
A new law, when being drafted, should always take that fact in. We cannot do anything about bad aspects of laws already in place but yes, bad governments can abuse even good laws.
jimsofty / April 30, 2017
Recently, during the civil disobedience campaign in the north, Tamils have thrown stones at army. All those should be arrested and delay any changes to terrorism act.
AJ / May 1, 2017
When the monks threw stones at the army and police in Colombo, where were you??????? If the government enforce the terrorism act, all BBS terrorists will be inside the cell.
K.Pillai / April 30, 2017
Year after year of pleading for more time to implement promises made on human rights, rule of law and order etc. started with Kathirgamar and GLP and created a cult of deceivers. Leading a life of deception will not work for ever.
The Counter-Terrorism Act is intended to continue the deception – EU for a start. Who will harvest off GSP plus (or whatever). Certainly not the workers toiling to produce the saleable items.
Aurangzeb / May 1, 2017
Tamilians asked for it. Now enjoy!
Tell me one Singhala politician who did not fool Tamils? But foolish Tamil modayas keep voting for Singhala presidents.
Unless Tamils shed this slave mentality, Tamils are doomed.
Uthungan / May 4, 2017
Are you saying Tamils must switch sides and be loyal to Pakistan and the ISI?
No way horsesay.
Tamils would prefer to serve in heaven rather than reign in hell.
jimsofty / May 1, 2017
if it adversely affects public security and the Right to Information Act of 2016. The RTI Act leaves out ‘public security’ as a ground on which to deny information.
So according to this article, this special interest group wants Terrorists who are scared to the new anti-Terrorism act to obey RTI act.
In other words, Terrorists and their supporters must have the access to confidential information whether it undermines country’s security and sovereignity.
In an another terrorism attempt, Pinto Jayawardane should be questioned to see where she is.
AJ / May 1, 2017
Why are you upset about your BBS terrorists getting hands on some of the information?
Pacs / May 1, 2017
SL is the best and first place to test and trial run all the so called anti Terror laws for the countries of tyranny.
Pacs / May 1, 2017
I believe you are unable to swallow without Jaffna Onion
Chandra / May 1, 2017
These ‘softies’ are best ignored, Placs, Jaffna or other ‘onions’apart!
Why waste time on morons?!
Dim _Sum / May 2, 2017
European parliament is in a state of flux so the SL government waited for the opportunity to submit it to EU members for whom English may be a 2nd or 3rd language.
The day the English Americans and Lankes learn to Reason all three Britain America and Lanka would collapse.
I would not be suprised if China had a say on it because now China is the main stakeholder with EU for Global trade.
This year, Amazon will surpass Macy’s, which last year announced it would shut 100 stores, to become the largest seller of apparel in America, by several analysts’ estimates.
Detailing Amazon’s Custom-Clothing Patent
Amazon now has an intriguing patent for an “on demand” clothing manufacturing system that can pump out custom-made suits, dresses and shirts. Its already a working system.
As I said before Garments won’t be an Asian or Lankan product in 2020- Its all going to be 3D printed here in the west- no stitching at all. Lankan girls better go into food production – back to the fields Organic only.
Pacs / May 2, 2017
I believe there is no article in it comment section of CT without mentioning of LTTE at least once. It is the same for article itself. There is no journalism without LTTE. No reader and writers without LTTE. Uou peruse and count. Some one can do a Ph D on this subject like the terrorism experts.
Pacs / May 3, 2017
3 commentators have used the acronym LTTE
Arun Ravi / May 3, 2017
“Lies And Deception’ In The Cabinet Approved Counter-Terror Draft”
There is nothing to be surprised in this matter. Among Tamil political circle, it is already anticipated. Tamil people can expect this from the Sri Lankan ruling class.But in this matter, Sampanthan -Sumanthiran faction of TNA also cheating their own people is surprise. Sampanthan continues to deceive his own people As well as misleading other leaders of the federation.They also relate to their parliamentary chairs. If the government does not do anything then why does Sampanthan honey moon celebrating with this government? Perhaps, Sumanthiran was given a presidential attorney to cooperate with the government in such matters.Who knows?
justice / May 4, 2017
In the Counter Terror draft, the period of time for production of an arrested person before a magistrate has been increased to 48 hours from 24 hours which has prevailed since independence.
This is unnecessary and increases the time during which coercion may be committed on the arrested person.
The arrested person is to be produced before a judicial medical officer only if there are visible injuries – there could be internal injuries which only a JMO could diagnose – such examination needs to be mandatory – else a person can internally bleed to death in a police station.
The right to an attorney is given, but not the opportunity to contact one.
There needs to exist a list of names of attorneys with telephone numbers and the right to use the telephone in private at the police station.
The need for examination/questioning in the privacy of a room by a magistrate and/or a JMO is not mentioned/ensured.
Chandra / May 4, 2017
@Justice, even the right to an attorney is not given immediately after arrest. It can be refused if the OIC thinks – see what has been proposed as an amendment to the Crim.Pro.Code.
But if Gota comes, all these will anyway be theory.