New laws to prohibit chemical weapons
New laws will be enacted by Parliament shortly prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons in keeping with Sri Lanka’s obligations to give legal effect to the UN convention on chemical weapons.
These laws are also being adopted as a pre-emptive measure to stop the possible manufacture or use of chemical weapons in Sri Lanka as well as to deal with any large scale accidents involving chemicals.
The Bill has been approved by the Cabinet and will now go before the consultative committee of the Ministry of Industrial Development prior to being presented to Parliament, a Ministry official said.
A National Chemical Weapons Authority will be established for the implementation of this act headed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Industries which will be empowered to administer the licensing and permit scheme for the regulation of toxic chemicals as well as facilitate routine industry inspections.
Under the provisions of the Bill, there will be a prohibition on the use, developing or producing of chemical weapons as well as acquiring, stockpiling and retaining such weapons or direct or indirect transfer of any chemical weapon to another person.
Engaging in any military preparations to use a chemical weapon as well as knowingly assisting, encouraging and inducing any such activity or using any riot control agent as a method of warfare too will be a violation of the new laws under which those found guilty will face a prison term of up to 20 years and a fine of up to one million rupees.
The toxic chemicals and the precursor that will be prohibited have been listed under the schedules of the Bill which include sarin, mustard gas and ricin.
Sri Lanka signed the UN Convention in 1993 and subsequently ratified it.