Feature Article

New regulations mandate "written approval" for peace facilitation

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 05:42 GMT]
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, in his public address on 06 December, stated that his government had decided to "reactivate the provisions of the The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)." On the same day he announced that he had defined "terrorism" in new regulations called Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities Regulations (PPTSTAR) which makes explicit reference to the PTA. The facilitation process has to be conducted as an "approved transaction," and upon "written approval" from Colombo, according to the PPTSTAR.

Free Media Movement (FMM) in Colombo has called on the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to "clarify the precise implications of its decision to reactivate the PTA."

The FMM in a press release said that the public security and anti-terrorism measures introduced by the government last week are "potentially extremely negative for freedom of speech and expression in Sri Lanka."

"We note that the latest proclamation is at pains to posit itself within the nature and scope of legitimate anti-terrorism measures as set out in the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1373 of 2001. Nevertheless, given the long history of emergency-related abuse of power in Sri Lanka, there are several points of serious concern with regard to the new regulations," the FMM release said.

"In particular, we would note the impermissibly wide scope of the range of activities prohibited by Regulations 2, 3 and 4 and the definition of terrorism in Regulation 16 (i). These provisions are couched in very vague language, allowing for the possible criminalisation of a range of democratically legitimate activities including the roles of media and civil society, and would clearly infringe constitutionally protected fundamental rights including freedom of expression.

Mr. Rajapakse in his address to Sri Lankans last Wednesday said:

"I am not prepared to belittle in the face of the LTTE's inflexible terrorism, the responsibility of State you have respectfully entrusted to me, or compromise its sovereignty. The entire world should reject the LTTE's policy of treating the Ceasefire monitors as mere messengers."

Taking all this into consideration, our Government decided to reactivate provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act to face this cruel and senseless terrorism. We also have for the first time defined terrorism, and brought in special provisions and regulations to curb it. I wish to tell you that our Government took this decision giving due consideration to all relevant facts and making a deep study of the situation."

The PPTSTAR makes explicit reference to the PTA defining a "specified terrorist activity" as an offence specified in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, signifying the context of the interpretation of the PTA in the regulations.

According to the PTA, "a person by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representations intends to cause commission of acts of hostility between different communities," would be classified as a terrorist, having performed a 'specified terrorist activity'.

PPTSTAR also provides a wide definition in addition: "No person shall: (i) wear, display, hoist or possess the uniform, dress, symbol, emblem, or flag of, (ii) summon, convene, conduct or take part in a meeting of, (iii) obtain membership or join, (iv) harbour, conceal, assist a member, cadre or any other associate of, (v) promote, encourage, support, advice, assist, act on behalf of, or (vi) organize or take part in any activity or event of, any person, group, groups of persons or an organization which acts in contravention of Regulation 2 of these Regulations."

According to the PPTSTAR, a person, as in the above scenario or belongs to a group that falls under the above definition, shall be guilty of a terrorism offence, and shall on conviction by a High Court be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than ten years and not exceeding twenty years.

And, a Peace Envoy, a member of NGO or INGO, could only be allowed with "written approval" of the Competent Authority appointed in terms of the recently imposed PPTSTAR Regulation, to engage in any "approved transaction," with the above person or group or groups of persons.

The PPTSTAR states further that the facilitator could be granted such approval either unconditionally or subject to stipulated conditions:

"The Competent Authority appointed in terms of Regulation 11 hereof, shall with a view to facilitating a peaceful political solution, termination of terrorism or specified terrorist activities, the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community, provision of humanitarian assistance, conduct of developmental activities, or for any other lawful purpose, grant approval either unconditionally or subject to stipulated conditions, to any person, group or groups of persons, to engage in any stipulated lawful transaction with any other person, group or groups of persons who may be acting in contravention of Regulations 2 or 3 hereof."


Related Articles:
12.12.06   Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terror..
07.12.06   Mahinda tells Sri Lankans: "choose your side in the war"
03.12.06   CFA, buried
03.12.06   Prevention of Terrrorism Act [PTA]

External Links:
FMM: "Fear psychosis has returned"
FMM: FMM statement on the New Emergency Measures


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