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Central & South Asia
Sri Lanka to lift emergency laws
President tells parliament there is no need for emergency laws two years after defeating Tamil Tiger separatists.
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2011 09:27
Rajapaksa has been criticised for allegedly allowing 'war crimes' against now defeated Tamil separatists [Reuters]

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, has announced the withdrawal of emergency laws under which the country had been ruled for nearly 30 years.

Rajapaksa told parliament on Thursday that there was no longer a need for the laws after the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels more than two years ago after nearly 25 years of conflict.

The laws, which give security forces sweeping powers of arrest and detention, had been renewed on a monthly basis - with brief breaks - ever since they were first imposed in 1979.

"I am satisfied that extension of emergency is not required anymore," Rajapaksa told parliament.

"To carry forward the day-to-day activities in a democratic way, I propose there is no need of emergency regulations anymore.

"There has been no terrorist activities since the end of the war in May 2009. I am satisfied that extension of emergency is not required anymore. So I inform (parliament) that we will not extend the emergency anymore."

Rajapaksa's announcement means the regulations will lapse at the end of August.

The emergency laws allowed suspects to be detained indefinitely and without charge.

'War crimes'

Sri Lanka's military crushed the Tamil Tigers to decisively end one of Asia's longest-running civil wars in 2009, but rights groups have accused the government for high civilian deaths and committing war atrocities.

A panel commissioned by the UN secretary-general in April said it had "credible evidence" both sides had committed possible war crimes, and in particular alleged that the government had killed thousands of civilians.

An internal UN tally of about 7,000 deaths in the final months was leaked to the media during the war, but the world body later disavowed the figure as unconfirmed.

But Gotabaya Rajapaksa, defence secretary and the architect of Sri Lanka's victory over Tamil separatists, said accusations of war crimes was motivated by a "hidden agenda" to topple President Rajapaksa.

"There is a hidden agenda behind these allegations. Their main requirement is to change the president and the government who are not fulfilling their desires," the defence secretary said last week.

Source:
Agencies
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