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Counter-terror legislation: CTA to be tabled in April

Counter-terror legislation: CTA to be tabled in April

2 months ago | By Asiri Fernando

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  • New act on disabilities expected

The Government plans to gazette and table in Parliament the new Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) next month, Minister of Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday (18).

The new CTA has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

According to Rajapakshe, the text of the new act is currently being translated into the official languages and will be gazetted in early April, with its legislation to be tabled in Parliament later on in April.

The CTA is expected to replace the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) of 1978 which has come under strong domestic and international criticism over the last three decades for being abused by law enforcement agencies for arbitrary detention of suspects.

Over the last few years, Sri Lanka has given undertakings to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the European Union that it will replace the PTA, which many have called a draconian piece of legislation.

Following strong diplomatic pressure, Sri Lanka last year reviewed the guidelines for the use of the PTA on suspects and also moved to release a number of suspects who had been held behind bars for many years under the PTA legislation. 

However, following the Aragalaya public protest movement in 2022, law enforcement agencies were once again seen using the PTA to obtain detention orders to hold a number of protest leaders for a prolonged period.   

The European Union last year highlighted the repeal or replacement of the PTA as a condition to extend the GSP+ trade concessions, which help Sri Lankan exports to the regional collective be more competitive.

The EU is a key export market for Sri Lanka, with many apparel, services, agri, and seafood products making up the export basket. 

According to the Minister of Justice, the Cabinet has also granted approval for a new bill on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which has been drafted last year, and is also expected to be gazetted in April. 

Last year, the Ministry of Justice held a round of stakeholder consultations on the new bill which saw the participation of representatives of the Disability Organisations Joint Front and the United Nations Development Programme.

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