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Cabinet approves draft of controversial counter-terrorism law

Sri Lanka's latest draft of the Counter Terrorism Act was approved by cabinet last week, despite continuing concerns about serious restrictions to fundamental rights.

A widely criticised early draft was amended in another version, however the draft apprived by the cabinet last Tuesday saw some of the controversial sections re-introduced.

The draft is thought to have been rushed through in anticipation of a vote at the European Parliament in relation to the granting of GSP+ trade concessions to Sri Lanka. It is unlear which draft was shared with the EU committee responsible for GSP+, however it appears to have been shared with the EU commission before it was available for public scrutiny in Sri Lanka.

See The Sunday Times on this here. Also see Kishali Pinto Jayawardena's column here.

The draft criminalises a range of activities that are perceived to harm the "unity" of Sri Lanka. The text for example says:

(1) Any person comrnits the offence of 'Terrorism', if that person, by any means, unlawfully or interntionally causes:

(ix) obstruction or damage or interference with any critical infrastructure or logistics facility associated with any essential service or supplies;

when the purpose of such conduct, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to wrongfully or unlawfully compel the Government of Sri Lanka or any other Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act or prevent the State from functioning or to cause harm to the unity, territorial integrity or sovereignty of Sri Lanka or any other sovereign State.