Consensus on issues not included in draft

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday alleged that those who had been responsible for formulating controversial policy and legal framework relating to the proposed Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) conveniently ignored consensus reached on some crucial issues at the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security. The TNA said that contentious issues had been taken up at the committee following representations made by the party.

 Jaffna District MP and TNA spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran yesterday told The Island that their recommendations in respect of the proposed law in place of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) had been largely ignored, much to the disappointment of all those wanting to introduce new anti-terrorism legislation in accordance with international standards.

 The TNA on Thursday denounced the proposed policy and legal framework relating to the proposed CTA.

Former Secretary of the Consultation Task Force for Reconciliation Mechanism (CTFRM) Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu told The Island that the draft available in the public domain was unacceptable and had to be amended, even subjected to legal challenge. The Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) said that the situation was really quite appalling.

An irate Sumanthiran said that he hadn’t been able so far to obtain a copy of the draft framework that had been approved by the cabinet on April 25, 2017.

Their efforts to contact Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security, UPFA National List MP Malith Jayathilake had been in vain, he said.

 Responding to a query, the MP said that the party had taken it up with the relevant committee when they realized what was proposed didn’t meet their expectations. In fact, as the proposed CTA had been even worse than the PTA, they had been compelled to vigorously pursue the issue finally leading to consensus at the parliamentary Oversight Committee.

According to Sumanthiran, the TNA had primarily raised four issues elimination of confessions, reduction of period of detention from 18 months to two, access to lawyers at the time of arrest and the proposed definition of terrorism. MP Sumanthiran asserted that Sri Lanka could have adopted the UN definition on terrorism to avoid controversy.

Sumanthiran pointed out that there wouldn’t be any purpose in having Sectoral Oversight Committees if consensus reached therein were ignored. (The Island)

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