clauses on Tigers
Govt. lifts moratorium on PTA: Tougher emergency
Bauer told to cancel Kilinochchi visit
The Government is to introduce tough new emergency
regulations next week and re-enforce the Prevention of Terrorism
Act in a bid to curb growing threats posed by the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Several vehicles caught fire and their occupants suffered injuries
when a suicide bomber blew himself up in an attempt on the life
of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Friday morning.
Pic by J. Weerasekera
These moves come in the wake of two important developments
— LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's "Maveerar Day"
address where he declared that the Ceasefire Agreement is now defunct,
and Friday's assassination attempt by guerrillas on Defence Secretary
Deterrent action against the LTTE was discussed
at a Cabinet meeting on Friday evening. This meeting was scheduled
since the regular weekly session on Wednesday could not be held
due to President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to India.
Yesterday, President Rajapaksa chaired a meeting
of senior ministers, government officials, representatives of the
Attorney General's Department and the Legal Draftsman's Department
to finalise the outlines of the new emergency regulations and details
related to the re-imposition of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
New emergency regulations under the Public Security
Ordinance will make provision for the arrest of anyone for questioning
for involvement in terrorist activity or having connections with
a terrorist organization. Such regulations, however, will not make
any pointed reference to the LTTE except to refer to it indirectly
as a "terrorist organization".
Earlier, The Sunday Times learnt, the discussion
focused on the possibility of re-imposing the ban on the LTTE, but
the move has now been ruled out for the moment. The LTTE was banned
in 1998 soon after the bombing of the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of
the Tooth) on the eve of Sri Lanka's 50th anniversary of Independence.
The JVP and the JHU have both called for the proscription
of the LTTE. They renewed their call yesterday. Under the new measures,
a Competant Authority is to be appointed and its permission will
be required for any organisation to have dealings with a 'terrorist
organisation'. This provision to the new laws is aimed at permitting
certain NGOs that are engaged in humanitarian work in the North
and East to operate.
The re-introduction of the PTA in effect will
amount to the lifting of a defacto moratorium placed on its enforcement.
This was in terms of Article 2.13 of the Ceasefire Agreement of
February 2002. This Article states: "The Parties agree that
search operations and arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism
Act shall not take place. Arrests shall be conducted under due process
of law in accordance with Criminal Procedure Code."
The Attorney General withdrew several cases filed
against PTA suspects shortly after the 2002 Ceasefire came into
operation. These related to cases where suspects withheld information
on the LTTE. Cases where suspects were charged with attacks on military
camps, however, were kept open, and are likely to get re-activated
under these new measures.
Until now the Government has been relying on emergency
regulations brought under the Public Security Ordinance to conduct
search-and-arrest operations against suspected LTTE cadres, particularly
in the City of Colombo and immediate suburbs. These regulations
came into effect after then Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar
was assassinated in August last year.
These new measures will be in conformity with the
United Nations laws on terrorism, a Government source said yesterday.
In a related development, the Government yesterday advised Norway's
special envoy Jon Hanssen Bauer not to travel to Wanni. He was due
to travel to Kilinochchi on Tuesday. Government Peace Secretariat
Chief Palitha Kohona told The Sunday Times that the message had
been conveyed to Mr. Bauer "until further advice is given."
Also see political
commentary and Situation
Report by Iqbal Athas.