The TNA expressed concerns regarding news reports of the recent Cabinet meeting and related deliberations concerning the proposed Counter-terrorism Bill which seeks the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 and subsequent amendments.
The Cabinet on 11 September approved a proposal by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tilak Marapana PC to gazette the Counterterrorism Bill and subsequently submit it to Parliament to make necessary reforms.
TNA Parliamentarian, M.A. Sumanthiran PC, speaking to Ceylon Today, pointed out that news reports had mentioned certain Ministers allegedly seeking to include the admissibility of confessions made by detainees under the Act to the Police back into the proposed Counterterrorism Bill Draft and also that as per a view allegedly held by President Maithripala Sirisena, the administration of the Act should come under the purview of the Ministry of Defence and thereby the Secretary – Defence, as opposed to being placed under the Police, the latter which comes under the Ministry of Law and Order.
“There were several drafts in this regard and in the context of the particular Parliamentary Oversight Committee, we raised concerns regarding a majority of matters. We were told that the issues were addressed. We have yet to see the draft presented to the Cabinet.
But, based on deliberations of the Cabinet meeting concerning the matter as reported in the news, we have concerns, even though we don’t know how far the news reports are true. Therefore, we are concerned and will be compelled to oppose the Bill tooth and nail until it is in accordance with international best practices in this regard.”
Minister Mano Ganesan and Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne PC were unavailable for comment while Deputy Minister – Law and Order, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, when contacted with a request for information on the Ministry’s input into the Bill suggested, that Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order, Padmasiri Jayamanne be contacted in this regard as it concerned a request for precise information.
Jayamanne in turn said that since the matter concerned national security information he was not in a position to give it over the telephone.