ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 27

Tighter clauses on Tigers

Govt. lifts moratorium on PTA: Tougher emergency laws
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 Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

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.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.