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PTA must be amended to get rid of its draconian provisions- Ex-MP

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Amending the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No 48 of 1979 (PTA) would be an expeditious way of getting rid of the draconian provisions in that law, than experimenting with new legislation, argues former UPFA lawmaker M.M. Zuhair.

President’s Counsel Zuhair has issued the following statement in the wake of Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) that probed accountability issues et al recommended that the PTA should remodeled on the basis of anti-terrorism laws of other countries, including the UK: “Blatant provisions in the PTA include, the deprivation of the liberty of the subject by ‘executive fiat’ without the arrested person having a clear judicial remedy in any court whatsoever, in violation of Article 13(2) of the Constitution and international treaties to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

“A letter from a Superintendent of Police to a Magistrate under section 7(1) of the PTA results in the Magistrate “shall…. make order that such person be remanded until the conclusion of the trial of such person.” This happens at the investigations stage when the police themselves could not reasonably contemplate the prospects of a trial. Disturbingly, the SP’s letter is perceived erroneously as depriving the Magistrate of his judicial discretion to decide on the matter, notwithstanding the Supreme Court making the legal position clear in several cases including Padmanathan vs SI Paranagama, OIC, NIB, Vavuniya (1999) 2 SLR 225 at 238/9, Weerawansa vs the Attorney General (2000) 1 SLR 387 and Sumanadasa and 205 Others vs Attorney General (2006) 3 SLR 202.

“The controversial law enables the detention of persons under section 9 of the PTA, by an order signed by the President, but large numbers of suspects including innocent persons had been incarcerated at times for years, though the PTA provides for a maximum period of 18 months only. Detained persons are kept in the custody of the investigating police itself, at any place in the country, resulting in several cases of torture disclosed in the law reports of our Courts.

“It must be noted that in both instances of detention on a presidential order under section 9 and remand order on SP’s letter under section 7, the decisions that prevail are essentially decisions of the executive and not that of the judiciary. The PTA is perceived as depriving the Magistrate of his judicial discretion resulting in remand orders decided by the executive, being rubber stamped by Magistrates.

“Even the consent to bail has to be granted by the executive, namely by the Attorney General acting in pursuance of the proviso to section 7 of the draconian law. Several persons arrested and remanded under the PTA have been discharged for lack of evidence, through the intervention of the Attorney General after sometimes after over a year in remand, a place described by first timers as ‘hell on earth’. Should persons who are innocent of any crime under-go such suffering and humiliation, affecting them and their family, on account of the inhuman aspects of the PTA? The Supreme Court has never hesitated to grant relief in several fundamental rights cases, where the police had abused the PTA and also in instances in which the Attorney General had unreasonably with-held consent to bail. But FR is an expensive and often time consuming process!

“The most ridiculous aspect of the PTA is that a person arrested and dealt with under section 7 or 9 of the PTA is left without any judicial remedy to obtain bail while an accused convicted by Courts under the PTA to serve several years in jail will be eligible to seek bail under section 19 of the PTA from the Court of Appeal! As stated by the Court of Appeal in a recent case, remanding has become a mode of punishment in certain cases, contrary to the exception in Article 13 (4) of the Constitution.

Amending the PTA to eliminate the obnoxious provisions and bring it in line with Article 13(2) of the Constitution and international treaties would be the minimum that can be done to restore the country’s image as a modern nation State. Amending the PTA would be more appropriate than replacing it with the much more controversial Counter Terrorism Law, which will lead to further radicalisation and conflicts.”



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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