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[DailyMirror, Friday, 11 September 2009 11:04 No Comment]

The government is acting outside the law and violating the Constitution by holding more than 250,000 displaced people at camps in the Wanni District, opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe charged yesterday.

Mr. Wickremesinghe who spoke during the emergency debate said no law in the country allowed the government to detain people in camps without detention orders.

“The regulations under the Public Security Ordinance made no provision for such detention,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said. “It is clear that Wanni citizens are not being held in government camps under any law. This is illegal. We have a government that is acting outside the law and violating the Constitution. We do not accept the argument the government is acting in the interest of displaced people.”

He said that under regulation 19 of the Public Security Ordinance the Defence Secretary must issue a detention order against a person suspected of being a threat to national security.

“Therefore if the government is going to hold 250,000 people under Regulation 19, there will have to be 250,000 separate detention orders. But no such detention orders in respect of these 250,000 people have been issued,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.He said the government had three months to identify LTTE members among the displaced people and 9,000 suspects had been identified and emphasized that those not suspected of any involvement with the LTTE must be free to leave the camps. “All displaced people must be free to leave if they have alternate accommodation and there is no detention order against them under Regulations 19 which provides the right to resettle in their own villages,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.

He said the government had refused permission for opposition MPs to visit the refugee camps, and urged parliament to rectify the situation and called for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to oversea the resettlement of the displaced people.

Meanwhile, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said in Parliament yesterday that the government was finding it hard to cope with the almost 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) because they had estimated that there were only 70,000 civilians in the Wanni when fighting broke out between the military and LTTE.

“The government stuck to their position that only 70,000 persons were in the Wanni, but more than 300,000 came out, proving the government figure to be inaccurate. Furthermore, the government sent food and essentials only for 70,000, and was totally unprepared for the 300,000 that came out,” said TNA leader R. Sampanthan during the debate on the Emergency in the House.

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