2 October, 2022

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The Use Of The Prevention Of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act As Amended To Stab The Rule Of Law

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Treating participants in demonstrations as terrorists will further damage the legal system of Sri Lanka. 

A student leader Wasantha Mudalige and several other leaders who have participated in demonstrations to highlight issues such as the problems of university students and other problems about economic difficulties in the country have been arrested and the charges are formed in a way so as to enable their detentions under the Anti-Terrorism Act. On that basis, the Judiciary’s power to examine the legality of their arrest and detention will be removed for the period for which the detention order is valid. 

A detention order can be for three months and will come into effect through the signature of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense. Thus, this detention will be entirely an Executive order and the Executive branch will completely determine the issue of the liberty of these individuals. 

Such an act of deprivation of judicial intervention into the arrest and detention of persons takes away the rights guaranteed by the Sri Lankan Constitution, other Sri Lankan laws and also international laws and treaties that Sri Lanka is a signatory to.

Whether an act could be characterized as a terrorist act is not a privilege of the Executive. There are internationally accepted definitions in defining the parameters of what may be called terrorist activities. Particularly, during the last few decades, this issue has been thoroughly debated in the world and the United Nations itself intervened in laying strict limits to the characterization of acts as acts of terrorism. The organizing of or participating in peaceful demonstrations is not by any means an act of terrorism. The attempt to extend the definition of terrorism to peaceful assemblies and demonstrations will fundamentally violate all the protections that are being afforded to such activities. The extension of the meaning of terrorism into these activities will be a primary and fundamental attack on the manner in which crimes are understood in Sri Lanka. The criminalizing of acts and particularly bringing them under the worst forms of crimes of terrorism will not only affect the particular individuals who have been subjected to such detention orders but will affect the entirety of the criminal justice system in Sri Lanka, the Constitutional law of Sri Lanka and the legal system in general. It will also violate all the principles on which liberal democratic constitutionalism is based. 

This is happening at the same time when the country is seriously discussing the future of its economy at all forums such as within the central committees of political parties, among the political parties, in the area of commerce, trade and others, and also in relation to international relationships which have become very vital to the survival itself of the Sri Lankan economy and its people. The extension of the definition of terrorism to normal democratic activities will affect all these discussions and will push back any progress that has been made in the attempt to arrive at a consensus about how to resolve the extremely serious problems that are faced in the country. At such a time, creating an atmosphere of tolerance is essential to consensus building because the drastic economic changes that are needed require a high degree of consensus if they are to be put into effect at all. Instead of creating such an atmosphere of discourse and debate, attempts to silence the people by making democratic participation to appear as acts of terrorism will damage this all necessary discourse. 

There had been many suggestions about future measures that need to be taken in order to achieve a serious change to meet the development needs of the Sri Lankan economy. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), for example, has presented to the Parliament itself, through one of his leading members, a 10 point programme which it has proposed to be taken with the consensus of all parties in order to achieve a rapid solution to the situation of economic bankruptcy. All such measures which are required will necessitate intense debates as to the possible changes that may be brought about through these measures which may contribute to a significantly better future for Sri Lanka. However, by their very nature, all suggestions are of a controversial nature and therefore, it is only informed debates and discussions that will create the environment that is needed in order to have similar suggestions accepted by the people. Such acceptance is a precondition for the successful implementation. Thus, politically speaking, any attempt to stifle discussion and debate including measures that are taken to suppress demonstrations is counterproductive to economic development. The priority at the moment should be this drive towards an economic solution and not mere petty considerations of the protection for some individuals who may not enjoy public confidence. In fact, the major obstacles to economic development are the fact that on a very large scale, there has been a loss of confidence of the people in their system of governance. 

Of the 10 points suggested by the SJB, it is the last point which is mentioned that is creating transparency and anti-corruption that will be the most attractive proposal and also the most necessary proposal if economic progress is to be achieved. This is an issue that interests the entire population and any progress made in this area may contribute a great deal to finding solutions to the kinds of problems that the protestors, through their various demonstrations and other means, have been raising in the country for a considerable period of time. In fact, these active elements among the students as well as trade unions and other peoples’ organizations should be given a prominent place to participate in this debate to bring about the said consensus because the implementation of any of these proposed measures will very much depend on the manner in which these people and their organizations will react to such demands. If the people who make such demands are treated as terrorists, it will only contribute to the colonization of forces which in turn will increase the possibilities of confrontations and which will in turn also damage the prospect of finding a solution to pressing economic problems. 

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Latest comments

  • 16
    3

    To Stab The Rule Of Law? Who said there is rule of law in Sri Lanka to stab?

    Sri Lanka and the rule of law parted ways seven decades ago. Just ask the Tamils who suffered in the regular pogroms let loose by the Sinhalese mobs aided and abetted by the state.

    • 12
      3

      There is no opportunity to Sri lanka come out of racism, fundamentalism and state terrorism and democratic dicatorship.!

  • 16
    1

    Has Ranil gone off his head?!!
    Where is he going with this?
    Things are beginning to look ominous & my initial inclination to give him the benefit of the doubt — imagining that at this late stage of his life, he will want to do all he can to restore decency, security & well being to the lives of the mass of the people — I am now horrified to see how he is dealing with peaceful expressions of popular feeling & dissent.

    • 9
      1

      Manel
      Ranil is doing what his class interests demand. He is restoring neo-colonial order to the country.
      The defence forces have been unleashed on potential enemies of the state. What we see now is just intimidation. What could come would be your worst nightmare come true.
      But cast aside all illusions. After the Aragalaya demonstrated its potential (with a rather restrained police and army though), no state will take chances.
      The Aragalaya itself was thoroughly infiltrated by agents provocateurs, and various miscreants, planted by vested interests, whom I will avoid naming for now.
      *
      Do you think that the Field Marshal, or the Maharaja’s little prince, or any other hand picked by the Family would have acted differently? If at all, more shabbily, because they listen to incompetent advisors.
      *
      There is work to do, not much here but elsewhere, organizing politically.

      • 3
        0

        SJ and Manel,
        All what you say is true.
        There is more to it – Refer to: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ranil-wickremesinghes-democratic-credentials-a-test-a-challenge/

        Apparently, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has been cleared of soliciting a 100m bribe.
        It is revolting to see the injustice – rogues are protected and those who agitate for a systemic change are arrested, detained and assaulted (Aragalaya participants).
        So, it is more than just defending the neo-colonial order – it is protecting the rogues.

    • 8
      7

      Manel Fonseka

      “Has Ranil gone off his head?!!”

      It is not just Ranil, it has been the results of 74 years of Nation Building process. Whether Ranil likes it or not the state functionaries, police, armed forces, politically protected thugs, some saffron clad fascists, murderers …. being treated with impunity.

      Therefore it is very unreasonable to expect Ranil to behave or rule differently. The politicians and rulers have become damn lazy hence Ranil chooses the easy options.

      This is not a robust defense of Ranil or any other politician. They will continue to use the same instruments/tools of oppression available to them including the armed forces, police, thugs, private security firms, thugs, saffron clad thugs, undemocratic laws, parliamentary majority, racists, ……………….

      Until we correct the skewed state powers ……………………………..

      Please note I am not suggesting we follow Mao’s red book but to democratise the state

      • 8
        11

        Native,
        We can democratise the state only after de-feudalizing the voters. We cannot de-feudalize the voters as long as we have media which broadcast this sort of feudal mysticism. That’s because most journalists, like the one in the video, have been brainwashed in what are optimistically described as Daham Pasalas.

        https://fb.watch/f4xDN6jPpc/

        • 4
          1

          Native
          Mao’s book, to be fair, does have useful methods of controlling uppity monks, priests, mullahs, etc.

  • 6
    1

    The author is a genuine HR expert. He also knows its international parameters and has integrity knowing life in the far east and west
    Sri lanka has expert politicians with Phds lost in their oen quest.
    Geneva does look at things kindly andy the IMF debt sustainability. Jargon alone will not help. The call will be on systems. too.

    As much as one wishes not to speak of the dead politicians, the WIPO Lakshman Kadir institute at Horton place cannot offer worthwhile advice. His ambition was where he lost but following such trends in international relations could be disastrous.
    It was tempting to tell uncle sam to mind his business, even living there.
    Our recent lady President saw his career unfold, and did not really think it was great.
    She was perhaps right for more than one reason.

    There are those who think we got Ports and we want a face that can “launch a thousand ships”
    Is it time to unleash a new seaworthy homegrown hero— all sound and fury ?
    or go for man firm on the ground. Honestly, it is all too elusive !

  • 10
    1

    The biggest terrorist in Sri Lanka today is Gonawela Ranil . He doesn’t have even 5% of the trust, legitimacy and democratic credentials commanded by the Aragalaya in the country today. But he has the brute force of the military behind him by cunningly hijacking the gains made by the Aragalaya to set himself up as the president with the help of the Rajapaksa Mafia. He has no mandate … he must go home without taking the country to its final Armageddon. He must quit now!

  • 14
    3

    It is difficult to imagine what horrors 22 million of us are now faced with. I am glad that many articles have appeared on this site now, and it is good to see this by Basil Fernando, who has been tirelessly dealing with problems of this sort, speaking so clearly.
    .
    In a sense we are trapped. Speaking out, as in the sentence that is to follow, is dangerous; not merely because we may be exposed to danger, but because Ranil and his cohorts will label us as being “unpatriotic”, thereby strengthening his position with some of our compatriots. It is good that the major world bodies, who alone can help us out financially, have made firm statements, that they will not help.
    .
    The sheer audacity of this takeover of all power by a man who was firmly rejected ought to have been enough, but fatigue seems to have set in.
    .
    World media which gave us so much coverage up to a month ago, don’t find the dramatic footage that they were then able to splash. This makes it all the more important that we stay firm in our resolve to non-violently but unambiguously oppose Ranil, and demand elections ASAP.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe/ Bandarawela

    • 13
      13

      Sinhala_Man

      1) As a regular contributor to the ‘Comments’ column in CT, you have often engaged with a person calling himself/herself ‘old codger’ commenting on a range of topics.

      2) A striking feature of ‘old codger’s’ comments is HERO-WORSHIPPING Ranil Wickremesinghe who in his/her eyes can do no wrong.

      3) ‘old codger’ has even described him as “Brilliant”.

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/its-time-to-untether-the-kite/

      4) Hence, it is NO SURPRISE that ‘old codger’ has continued this ‘TRADITION’ while commenting on Basil Fernando’s article – ‘The Use Of The Prevention Of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act As Amended To Stab The Rule Of Law’.

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-use-of-the-prevention-of-terrorism-temporary-provisions-act-as-amended-to-stab-the-rule-of-law/

      5) Manel Fonseka evidently an overtly kind lady has queried “Has Ranil gone off his head?!!”. My ‘humble’ view is that irrespective of his mental state, he is being utterly CONSISTENT with his track record in and out of office.

      6) While being of the opinion that ‘old codger’ “has lost all sense of shame!” you have stated: “I’m beginning to join the chorus of those who demand the identity of old codger since he has begun to make unbalanced statements.” You have every right to DEMAND this since you have even DISCLOSED your ID number!

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/any-dealing-with-president-who-lacks-legitimacy-is-political-suicide/

      (Continued Below)

    • 12
      12

      Sinhala_Man (continued)

      7) The RESPONSE of ‘old codger’ to your “Since you so much admire Ranil” is – “My interest in Ranil is purely to do with efficiency.”
      8) The ‘old codger’ comment – “Ranil has done a better job so far getting rid of queues” is a SUPERFICIAL reading of the ground reality. For example, does the WEEKLY fuel QUOTA resolve the problem? Fisherfolk throughout the country continue to protest on issues concerning kerosene. There are plausible allegations of CORRUPTION in the purchase of fuel and cooking gas which have not been laid to rest.
      9) To ‘old codger’, Sarath Fonseka receiving “Rs. 100,000/= from a PTL related company” (clearly wrong) is more SERIOUS than the egregious ‘Bond Scam’ under the DIRECT WATCH of Wickremesinghe who is now Executive President!
      10) Is not Wickremesinghe’s much HYPED western links translating to economic assistance and FDIs proven to be a MYTH?
      11) Is it not the FEAR syndrome that is keeping a lid on things?
      12) The latest AFFRONT to CT readers by ‘old codger’ is the RESPONSE to you on the permission granted for the docking of the Chinese research ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ in the Hambantota Port. ‘old codger’ is economical with the truth when informing you – “Again, it wasn’t Ranil who granted permission, but Gota.”

    • 12
      12

      Sinhala_Man (continued)

      13) The approval from the ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ for docking is dated 12 July 2022 when Wickremesinghe was clearly in CHARGE after Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not seen in public after fleeing President’s House on 9 July. He left for the Maldives in the early hours of 13 July soon after which Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister declared a state of ‘EMERGENCY’. It is UNLIKELY that Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister was not aware of the Foreign Ministry letter. Even IF (for argument) Gotabaya had granted permission, could not Wickremesinghe have RESCINDED the same as ‘Acting President’?

      14) Under cover of ANONYMITY ‘old codger’ makes FALSE and MALICIOUS attacks on PRIVATE individuals. He/she is probably the ONLY person who does so in ‘Colombo Telegraph’. Examples include:

      “unlike the author, I don’t run a years-long vendetta accusing people of “egregious ” dishonesty and run away when challenged.”

      “It may well be that Ranil’s position is “illegitimate “, as the author loudly claims…It is better not to mix one’s own personal and unprovable prejudices, like media monopolies and bond scams into public writings.”

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/any-dealing-with-president-who-lacks-legitimacy-is-political-suicide/

      15) Should not Readers DEMAND that ‘old codger’ forthwith REVEALS his TRUE IDENTITY?

      Amrit Muttukumaru

      • 8
        2

        Dear Amrit,
        .
        Many thanks for all your comments and for digesting so much of what I have said. Just because I have chosen to be very open about my identity, I wouldn’t insist on everybody revealing identities. That is especially so, when the comments are balanced and objective.
        .
        I have found old codger a delight for many years now. However, this recent adulation of Ranil seems outrageous to me as well. The problem was there with Shyamon Jayasinghe, but, as you say, significantly, we know his biography pretty well.
        .
        We have got to an important cross-roads in the life of our country. You will find, in some places like this,
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/saying-no-to-authoritarian-governance/
        .
        that I have got increasingly strident in my denunciations of some of our holy cows. Please go to the last comments there.
        .
        My admiration for you as a man who has the courage to take on the Establishment grows! I have to stick to writing only about what I know reasonably well, and so my range is limited.
        .
        old codgers great strength lies in his ability to suddenly make a brief, pregnant observation, but his tolerance of the intolerable has certainly unnerved me. And it is true that his wide knowledge has led to my hitherto having regarded what he says as Gospel Truth. Thanks again.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

        • 6
          6

          Sinhala_Man

          1) What can one say to a human being such as ‘old codger’ who believes he/she has the LICENSE to SLANDER even PRIVATE individuals with outrageous FALSEHOOD under cover of ANONYMITY? In this instance, I am accused of harboring a ‘vendetta’ without disclosing the person/s involved!

          2) I wonder by what sleight of hand ‘old codger’ has come to the conclusion I am an “auditor”?

          3) ‘old codger’ seems to believe that all that has been said in Basil Fernando’s article – ‘The Use Of The Prevention Of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act As Amended To Stab The Rule Of Law’ and the comments thereon can be BRUSHED aside by saying “Never mind Ranil”! This includes Manel Fonseka’s “Has Ranil gone off his head?!!”.

          4) ‘old codger’ who HERO-WORSHIPS Ranil Wickremesinghe is FURIOUS when anyone CRTICIZES Wickremesinghe.

          5) While IGNORING every issue which includes being economical with the truth when responding to you on the permission granted for the docking of the Chinese research ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ in the Hambantota Port by informing you – “Again, it wasn’t Ranil who granted permission, but Gota.”, ‘old codger’ focuses on DOWNPLAYING the ‘Bond Scam’ under the DIRECT WATCH of Wickremesinghe.

          6) The ‘Bond Scam’ is like ‘waving a red flag’ and calling it ‘EGREGIOUS’ infuriates ‘old codger’.

          (Continued Below)

        • 6
          5

          Sinhala_Man (Continued)

          7) How can anyone have ANY CONFIDENCE in whatever ‘old codger’ says when Wickremesinghe is not FAULTED (i) for UNPRECEDENTEDLY bringing the issuing agency for Treasury Bonds (CBSL) under his direct purview? (ii) for having HANDPICKED Arjuna Mahendran a foreign national to be CBSL Governor?

          8) To DOWNPLAY the egregious Bond Scam, ‘old codger’ even goes to the extent of suggesting that the Supreme Court knows MORE on matters such as the ‘Bond Scam’ than the ‘Auditor-General’. Despite ACCEPTING that the “Auditor-General of the day” had determined it had “caused an incalculably large drain of finances over an incalculable period of time”, ‘old codger’ places more confidence on the claimed SC “decision” that “any provable loss is not more than 360 million annually.”

          9) The latest phobia of ‘old codger’ is “incalculably large drain of finances”.

          (Continued Below)

        • 5
          6

          Sinhala_Man (Continued)

          10) The clearest PROOF that ‘old codger’ has CONFIRMED Dayan Jayatilleka’s assertion that the “Auditor-General of the day” had said that the Bond Scam “had caused an incalculably large drain of finances over an incalculable period of time” is ‘old codger’ saying “I would think his opinion is more an indication of the quality of the “Generals” we have in this country than anything else. You might remember that the Supreme Court decided that any provable loss is not more than 360 million annually. Peanuts, as they say.”

          11) Instead of QUESTIONING the “Auditor-General of the day” via ‘Colombo Telegraph’, why is ‘old codger’ not having the GUTS to question him DIRECTLY? Of course ‘old codger’ can only do so if he/she has the COURAGE to come clean and reveal his/her true IDENTITY!

          12) ‘old codger’ is probably the ONLY person who BRAZENLY makes VITUPERATIVE and FALSE comments under cover of ANONYMITY in ‘Colombo Telegraph’.

          13) I DEMAND that ‘old codger’ FORTHWITH reveals his/her IDENTITY. In the absence of this, I consider further engagement with ‘old codger’ UNPRODUCTIVE and a sheer waste of time.

          Amrit Muttukumaru

          • 4
            5

            A.M,
            “In the absence of this, I consider further engagement with ‘old codger’ UNPRODUCTIVE and a sheer waste of time.”
            I believe you have said that several times before. Instead of giving yourself conniptions, why not do a very simple thing?
            PRESENT A CALCULATION OF THE LOSSES YOU ALLEGE FROM THE “BONDSCAM”.
            If you can’t do that, hold your peace and keep your cool!
            I couldn’t care less what Dr.DJ or an “Auditor-General ” thinks. I am interested in what YOU can produce as proof. Don’t lean on third parties. I have several times provided calculations.
            BTW, it seems Dr.DJ’s quote of “an incalculable loss” is, to put it mildly, a terminological inexactitude. Here is Gamini Wijesingha, the AG in question:
            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/auditor-general-confirms-country-lost-rs-1-6-billion-due-to-bond-scam-cope-report-out-this-month/
            1.6 billion over 30 years is about 500 million annually. Surely you could have checked before making wild allegations?

        • 4
          4

          SM,
          Thanks for the very diplomatic response to AM. Even RW couldn’t have done better (I know that will get your goat)
          Some people don’t know that political opinions may differ, but that doesn’t make mortal enemies of those who hold them. It is quite possible to get along with people who have different opinions, without engaging in vituperative fulminations. Argument must be answered with argument.
          Re. my identity, I can assure you that I am not even as important as AM. So there.

      • 8
        8

        Amrit my dear,
        Rather pissed off today, are we? Nothing I can help you with, sadly.
        Never mind Ranil. The fact is that you, despite being an “auditor” are totally unable to produce any credible calculation of “egregious ” losses in the “bondscam”, but depend on worthies like DJ or an “Auditor-General “. Come on now, even an OL maths student can do it.
        Also, when you keep talking about a “bondscam” which, at the most, in theory, could amount to an annual loss of 360 million, while ignoring audited annual losses of up to 20 BILLION in other institutions, am I being unreasonable in suspecting a vendetta?

        • 7
          6

          Oc@
          The problem with our folks regardless of their education/ they are made to believe anything being telecasted by country s main Pachawahinis 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔that is very similar to sadu sadu effect of so called sinhala Buddhist s. Yet today not that Dr Wije has categorically accepted that so called bond scam was singlehandedly generated by RW. However entire country incl powerful JVPrs accused him of being the key man. And powerful Singapore authorities stay yet mum on the controversial bond scam /why ????????😉😉😉😉😉😉😉

          • 4
            5

            LM,
            Our “pundits” generally depend on other pundits for their opinions. So it’s a vicious circle. They simply don’t have the ability to decide for themselves.

  • 5
    0

    The entrenched, corrupt and inept ruling elite have no answers to tackle the monumental problems facing the nation. Citizen discontentment is high and frustration leads to protests on the streets. Repression is the only tool available.

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