Cabinet approves amended version of white paper on new counterterrorism law

Thursday, 27 April 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians  

The Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday approved an amended version of a white paper on the proposed new counter-terror laws, following observations by the Minister of Defence, a portfolio held by President Maithripala Sirisena, and discussions with other ministers.

In his Cabinet Paper, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Policy and Legal Framework relating to the proposed Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) of Sri Lanka had been deferred to enable members of the Cabinet to present their views on the document.

Cabinet approval was sought for an amended version of the CTA legal framework, with a notation that further amendments, if any, could be incorporated when the bill was being drafted.

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the framework for the new anti-terror laws that will replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, and directed the Legal Draftsman to draft legislation based on the white paper now approved by the ministerial body.

Authoritative sources told Daily FT that the CTA legal framework was now human rights compliant, even though there was still room for more improvement.

The first draft of the Government’s proposed counterterrorism policy and legal framework which was leaked in October last year, came under heavy criticism for appearing to widen the net on terrorism-related offences while failing to address some of the fundamental failures of the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act. 

In January, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe ordered major revisions to the CTA framework to bring the draft in line with international best practice and Sri Lanka’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). However, the draft was subject to further revision over the past three months, after the Cabinet of Ministers wanted more time to study the document. Daily FT learns that the security sector weighed in heavily on the final white paper that was approved by Cabinet this week, through President Sirisena, who is Minister of Defence.