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New laws replace emergency regulations

[BBC, Thursday, 1 September 2011 08:08 No Comment]

'New law will restore detention powers' - Minister Hakeem Sri Lanka has introduced new legislation which allows it to continue to detain without charge people who are suspected of terrorism.

Justice Minister Rauff Hakim told BBC on Wednesday that the new laws will be in place with the expiry of similar provisions under the country’s controversial emergency laws.

Last week President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced the imminent lifting of the country’s state of emergency.

The laws have been in place 1971 except for very brief intervals and were renewed by parliament every month – even after the government declaring the military defeat of Tamil Tigers in 2009.

Over thousand to be freed

Minister Hakeem said that between 1200 and 1500 people in detention may get released but there are some more who needs to be kept in custody.

"We are planning to bring in new legislation to parliament as an urgent proposal to keep them in detention until they are charged", he added.

According to him new legislation will allow the government to keep some suspects of hard core terrorism in detention.

"The new bill for legislation will be in addition to the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). This new law will restore detention powers. We expect the new draft bill to be approved by cabinet next week prior to be presented in parliament" Minister told Sandehshaya.

However, "there will be an opportunity of forty eight hours to file any objections to Supreme Court against the new legislation" he added.

Sweeping powers

The emergency regulations gave security forces sweeping powers of arrest and detention.

Western governments and India had been urging an end to the emergency, arguing that its provisions made it easy for the government to detain people unfairly and silence anti-government activists.

Amnesty International welcoming the lifting of the state of emergency called upon the Sri Lankan government to follow it up by removing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

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