[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Sri Lanka imposes new anti-terrorism measures
Emergency law comes to an end, but new government regulations prevent detained Tamil separatists from being released.
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2011 05:41

The army said it was awaiting orders on any changes to emergency powers [EPA]

Sri Lanka has lifted its wartime emergency powers and introduced new regulations under the 1978 Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), allowing it to keep captured separatist fighters in detention.

The new regulations came into effect on Wednesday, as the state's decades-old emergency law expired on Tuesday at midnight. 

Despite the expiration, Attorney General Mohan Peiris said thousands of Tamil separatists detained under emergency laws would remain imprisoned.

"No suspects will be released and there is no change even though the emergency has been allowed to lapse," Peiris told journalists.

The army, which will help enforce provisions of the new security rules, said it was awaiting orders on any changes to emergency powers.

A human rights lawyer said the move to have new regulations had sowed confusion.

"It is not clear why they need more regulations when the Prevention of Terrorism Act is in force," said a human rights lawyer who declined to be named.

Peiris said new regulations under the PTA would ensure that a ban imposed on the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and a front organisation would continue indefinitely.

UN meeting

When the Tamil Tigers were defeated in 2009, the Sri Lankan government said it was holding about 12,000 members of the LTTE, some of whom have been freed in the past two years.

    Tamils' struggle face uncertain future, 2009

However, it is not known how many remain in custody.

Emergency laws were first imposed in 1983 when Tamil fighters escalated their violent campaign for an independent state for the island's ethnic Tamil minority.

The laws, which gave security forces sweeping powers of arrest, were renewed on a monthly basis with only brief breaks.

The decision to end emergency rule comes ahead of next month's United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva which is expected to discuss alleged war crimes during the last stages of the ethnic conflict.

The US has been leading international calls for an investigation into alleged atrocities on both sides as a massive military offensive finally crushed the rebels.

The Sri Lankan government has denied any wrongdoing and resisted foreign calls for an investigation.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list