Sri Lanka in talks with UN anti terror chief on countering violent extremism, foreign fighters

ECONOMYNEXT – Measures Sri Lanka needs to take to counter violent extremism and stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters were discussed during a visit to the island by the chief of the United Nations counter-terrorism initiative.

The foreign affairs ministry said UN Assistant Secretary General (ASG) and Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) Michèle Coninsx was told about measures Sri Lanka had already taken such as terrorist financing and asset freezing.

“The ASG’s visit also explored further measures that need to be taken for Sri Lanka to be compliant with international counter terrorism obligations under relevant Security Council Resolutions, notably Resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2396 (2017),” it said.

These included “stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and countering violent extremism as well as the importance of border security.”

Coninsx, a former Belgian prosecutor, gave her assessment of Sri Lankan efforts during her talks with Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Her talks with Sri Lankan officials covered terrorist financing and asset freezing, dealing with foreign terrorist fighters, counter terrorism legislation, countering radicalization and violent extremism, effective border management against terrorist travel, and threats posed by the internet and social media in spreading radical ideology and violent extremism.

Coninsx was in Sri Lanka at the invitation of Marapana, after a request by President Maithripala Sirisena to the UN Secretary General António Guterres on 24 April in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday suicide attacks by Islamist extremists that killed over 250 people.

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Sirisen asked the UN to support Sri Lanka in facing the new threats posed by terrorism.

The statement said there was an interactive dialogue held at the Defence Ministry co-chaired by Secretary to the Defence Ministry Shantha Kottegoda and Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha.

“ . . . following a comprehensive briefing on the action taken by the security forces following the attacks and future action contemplated, the need for a “Whole of Government” approach to counter terrorism and violent extremism was emphasized,” it said.

The meeting was attended by officials from the Foreign Ministry, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Attorney General’s Department, Customs, Department of Immigration and Emigration and the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank.

The CTED was established by the UN Security Council as a special political mission to assist the UN Security Council’s Counter –Terrorism Committee (CTC).

It is tasked with carrying out the policy decisions of the CTC, conduct expert assessments of Member States and facilitate counter-terrorism technical assistance to countries.
(COLOMBO, 12 June 2019)