The Sri Lankan Government has developed a policy and legal framework for a new Counter Terrorism Act, which would comply with international human rights norms, while the draft is currently going through revisions following Cabinet approval, Minister Sagala Ratnayake said.
“The Prevention of Terrorism Act had earned notoriety as one of the most draconian pieces of legislation in Sri Lanka,” the Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development said.
He was delivering a speech on ‘Post-Conflict Sri Lanka: Rebuilding peace and confidence among people severely affected by terrorism and war’ at the 3rd Counter Terrorism Conference held in New Delhi on Tuesday (14).
“The GOSL has developed a policy and legal framework for a new Counter Terrorism Act, which would comply with international human rights norms. The draft is currently going through revisions following Cabinet approval and consideration by the Parliamentary Oversight Committee for National Security,” he said.
He also said that the Prevention of Persons from Enforced Disappearance Act, which was placed in the Order Paper of Parliament a week ago, introduces provisions which would hold criminally responsible not only those who were engaged in disappearance but those who exercise command responsibility as well.
“If adopted, this will be one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation in place in Sri Lanka to prevent deprivation of liberty.” Similarly, an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code Act has been drafted with a view to allowing lawyers’ access to suspects in police custody, Ratnayake said.
He stated that all these policy and legal measures as well as other initiatives redefine Sri Lanka’s legal regime and access to justice in such a manner that “accountability remains an entrenched feature of the rule of law.”
They would also ensure that prevention and non-recurrence would be the overarching principle of justice and governance in Sri Lanka, he said. “All these would go a long way in assuring that fear has no place in the life of any person in Sri Lanka.”