ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition said it would support the government to bring a new prevention of terrorism law, as the misuse of the current one against the public and minorities was reducing civil liberties.
The European parliament has cited Sri Lanka’s existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has been cited as one of the tools through which democratic freedoms were being stripped away and minorities targeted, which may lead to the GSP+ trade benefits being taken away.
“A robust national security framework can be developed without compromising democracy,” opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya legislator Eran Wickremaratne said.
“Obviously new act PTA has to give primacy the defense of the country. The new act has to be able to protect democracy of the country and human rights.”
He said the SJP viewed the draft framework prepared by the National Law Commission as a starting point.
Under the PTA, Ahnaf Jazeem, a poet, has been detained without trial. Hejaz Hibullah, a lawyer, has also been detained without trial.
Egged on by nationalists, the government had also been forcibly cremating Muslim victims of Coronavirus, which was stopped following pressure from the United Nations.
“This government has gone after minorities,” Wickremaratne said. “The minorities are really under pressure.
“We have seen Shani Abeysekera, Sri Lana’s most well-known detective head of the CID, he had been held. No charges against him a well.”
Wickremeratne said the media and social media were now being targeted on claims of ‘fake news’.
The loss of GSP+ benefits would hurt export industries and jobs, he said.
Wickremeratne said when the last administration came to power there was no GSP+ and there was also a ban of the export of fish to the EU.
“It was in very difficult circumstances, it is not very well understood by people,” Wickremeratne said.
“In about one and a half years after negotiations we go the bans lifted. We could export our fish. The garment, ceramics and rubber industries were direct beneficiaries.”
The of GSP+ would undermine the competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s exports and result in job losses. (Colombo/June14/2021)