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CTA Bill faces stiff resistance

Rajapaksa, JVP and Rights groups see the CTA as troubling

File Photo Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe/PM Media

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is spearheading the effort to pass the Counter-Terrorism Bill in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks but is getting stiff resistance from the Opposition.

Yesterday (8) Wickremesinghe made his case before the House urging all 225 Members to support the CTA which he says has the teeth to deal with global terror.

The Easter Sunday suicide bombers are suspected of having links with the Islamic State’s global terror network or were inspired by the extremists.

Responding to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake the Prime Minister asked the MPs not to make the CTA a “bogeyman.”

He pointed out that terrorism takes different forms in today’s world and our laws cannot deal with them.

“For instance, if somebody drives a car directly at a group of people and kills them, that incident cannot be dealt with under the Motor Traffic Act. So we need new laws,” he said.

Wickremesinghe also pointed out why action could not be taken against the Sri Lankans who went to Syria to join IS.

This he said was because the currently operating Prevention of Terrorism Act does not cover terroristic actions or affiliations made overseas.

The suspects arrested in connection to the recent attacks are being arrested and prosecuted under the draconian PTA.

Opposition to CTA from various sources

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a written statement, has said that there is “a growing opposition to the CTA and we will oppose it.”

Rajapaksa gave no specific reasons or points of law which he found troubling.

Other groups such as the Free Media Movement, Human Rights activists, and the JVP have raised objections about specific clauses which impinge on basic freedoms.

Legal experts say that the CTA is more in line with current international terror laws.

Sri Lanka has a public commitment to the United Nations Human Rights Council to replace the PTA with the CTA.

The PTA has been grossly abused by the Sri Lankan state as suspected LTTE militants have been held without trial for decades under its provisions.