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Austria adopts anti-terror package, ‘preventive detention’ on hold

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Following 2 Nov. attack:

In the wake of recent attack in Vienna that claimed the lives of four persons, Austria has adopted a security package to deal with terrorism. Austria made initial announcement a week after the Nov 2 attack blamed on a person described as an Islamist.

According to Austrian media, the government presented the package on Wednesday, Dec 16. In terms of the new package, the symbol law has been amended so that symbols of the right-wing extremist Identitarian Movement and those of some Islamist organizations could be banned; the media quoted Interior Minister Karl Nehammer as having said. The media also attributed stepped up electronic surveillance to Interior Minister Karl Nehammer and Justice Minister Alma Zadic.

However, the government refrained from adopting what it called preventive detention as part of overall security reforms for the time being.

The anti-terror package consists of following measures:

· Creation of a new criminal offense: The central component of the federal government’s new anti-terrorist package is the creation of a separate criminal offense to combat political Islam. The new paragraph 247b “Religiously motivated extremist association” in the Criminal Code is directed against organizations that fight the democratic constitutional order and want to replace it with a religiously based social and state order (such as the Sharia). According to the Criminal Code, anyone who establishes such an association, is a leader in such an association or otherwise participates in or supports it can now be punished.

Religiously motivated political extremism is becoming an aggravating factor under criminal law: A new aggravation factor for religiously motivated extremist motives is also being introduced. This should make it possible to take effective action against new forms of extremism.

· Radical mosques will be closed: Changes in the Islamic Law will create a new legal basis for closing radical mosques more quickly and easily. Specifically, in the future, the Office of Cultural Affairs should react much faster – and in particularly serious cases even without being asked to stop – and close mosques.

· Introduction of an imams’ directory: mosques and imams must be listed in a new directory. This directory will also include foreign imams and enables a transparent overview of which imam is preaching in which mosque, according to Integration Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP). In this way, effective action can be taken against mosques that provide a platform for hate preachers from abroad. Sanctions are also planned for non-compliance.

· Stricter foreign financing ban: The foreign financing ban on mosques (Islam Law 2015) is now being tightened. In future, mosque institutions and the associations behind the mosques will be legally obliged to submit all financial documents. Here too, sanctions are planned for non-compliance.

· Improved data exchange: In addition, appropriate legal bases are created in order to improve the data and information exchange between the security authorities and the cultural office to implement these measures.



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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