PTA to stay - Defence Minister

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 January 2003, 15:35 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Defence Minister, Mr. Tilak Marapone, said in parliament Friday that a decision on abolishing the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary provisions) Act would be made only after considering all future repercussions of such a removal. The present situation is "not conducive to doing away with the PTA," said Mr. Marapone.

Mr. Marapone, a former Attorney General, was speaking during a debate held Friday on a private member motion moved by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian (MP) Mr.A.Vinayagamoorthy, seeking the abolition of the PTA.

Tabling the motion, Mr. Vinayagamoorthy, Jaffna district MP and the leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, a main constituent of the TNA, said the draconian PTA should be abolished. The act had failed miserably to achieve its objectives. Instead, law enforcement authorities use it against innocent Tamil people, especially in the North-East province by the law enforcement authorities.

The PTA had provided more powers to the Police to arrest persons without any trace of evidence against them. The Police first arrest Tamils under the PTA and thereafter cook up evidence against those arrested by extracting confessions through torture. Hundreds of violations of human rights had taken place in the country especially in the North-East due to the implementation of the PTA, said Mr. Vinayagamoorthy.

Seconding the motion, Trincomalee district TNA MP, Mr.R.Sampanthan, who is also the Secretary General of the Tamil United Liberation Front, another main constituent of the TNA, said hundreds of Tamil people face numerous difficulties due to the draconian PTA. Several local and international human rights organizations have urged the removal of the PTA. The PTA can be abolished without delay, as the country is not facing armed conflict at present.

Mr.Dinesh Gunawardene, MP from the Colombo district and the leader of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, said that terrorism is still rampant in the country and terrorists are now tagged as liberators.

Mr.Dilan Perera, MP of the main opposition People's Alliance said his party would support the demand for the abolition of the PTA. All members of the parliament irrespective of party differences should support the abolition of the PTA, he requested.

Mr.Gunawaradene asked the Speaker to adjourn the debate for another day when he was asked to wind up his speech. Mr. T.Maheswaran, a UNF minister, and Mr. Achala Jayagoda, Janata Vimukthi Peramuna MP were prevented by the Speaker from speaking in the debate as they had behaved in an unruly manner in the House, parliamentary sources said.

The Speaker adjourned the parliament until January 28

Meanwhile, Minister of parliamentary Affairs, Mr.A.H.M.Azwer, raised a point of order Friday regarding an opposition MP who on Thursday had hurled slices of bread at the Minister of Trade and Commerce, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake.

Sources said that the MP was protesting the increase in price of bread during the debate on the Consumer Authority Bill. Mr.Azwer said the MP concerned should be punished after an inquiry. Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr.Mahinda Samarasinghe, said even harmful objects can be hurled at MPs if stern action is not taken against the errand MP after inquiry.


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