SJB to go to court against new Anti-Terrorism Bill

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has vowed to go to court over the new Anti-Terrorism Bill.

SJB member Ashok Abeysinghe stressed that no matter how the relevant Bill is amended, the main opposition would still oppose it.

He further added that although a gazette notification has been issued pertaining to the Bill, it is yet to be presented before the parliament following its most recent amendments.

“Once it is presented before parliament, there is a period of 14 days for us to go before the Supreme Court [to challenge the Bill]”, he said, emphasising that, “Even if the Bill is amended, we will continue to oppose it. We plan to go to courts.”

Further stressing his point, the SJB MP recalled that when the Anti-Terrorism Bill was initially presented to the parliament, several parties went to court to challenge the legislation, deeming it unsuitable, while many other international organisations, too, raised concerns about it.

In September last year, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill prepared by the legal draftsman to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

However, the Justice Ministry later revised the original draft bill published in the government gazette and re-drafted it, after taking into account all the opinions and suggestions it received from various interested parties both locally and internationally.

In September 2023, the Cabinet approval was received to publish the Bill which was revised in accordance with the suggestions and opinions received by different parties in the government gazette, and to table the bill in parliament for passing.