Sri Lanka on Wednesday said it has approved the draft of a new counter-terrorism law to replace a 37-year-old act to target the “new form of transnational violence” while ensuring its human rights obligations. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the draft of a new counter-terrorism law, acting government spokesman and deputy minister Karunarathna Paranavithana said.
The new law will replace the current Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which was enacted in 1979 in the face of growing Tamil separatist militancy and had faced criticism as it allowed indefinite detention of people without charges.
The Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) is aimed at dealing with new forms of transnational violence, he added.
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According to a proposal by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new law aims at ensuring full compliance with Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations while having adequate provisions to combat and deal with terrorism.
Paranavithana said a committee appointed by Wickremesinghe and headed by the minister of law and order had completed the draft policy and legal framework on the proposed CTA.
“We need the new law to ensure the country is not used as a recruiting ground or for other organising activity of international terrorists,” he said.
The need for the new law was felt as terrorism had changed its nature, growing from internal conflicts to transnational violence, he added.
Tamil and human rights groups have pointed to the draconian nature of the PTA. During the LTTE’s over three-decade armed campaign to set up a separate Tamil state, many LTTE activists were held under the PTA.
International rights groups had urged the Sri Lankan government to repeal the PTA and release those held under its provisions.