Sri Lanka’s cabinet has reportedly approved new counter terrorism legislation, criminalising acts that will cause “harm to the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Sri Lanka”.
The proposed legislation would also criminalise “joining, becoming a member of, supporting or representing a proscribed terrorist organization for the purpose of aiding and abetting the commission of an offence under this Act”.
As of 2016, under Sri Lankan law, several Tamil diaspora groups, including the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) and the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC) remain proscribed as “terrorist organisations”.
Nevertheless, it was welcomed by Colombo based organisation, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) which said the draft “would represent a much better balance between the liberty of the individual and the powers of the state by establishing several meaningful checks and balances for the exceptional powers given to the state to combat terrorism”.
The draft bill, which still has not been passed into law, reportedly faced opposition from ministers within the cabinet. “There were a number of concerns raised and almost all ministers had made observations. Approval was granted subject to the amendments proposed,” a senior Cabinet Minister told the Daily FT.
The CPA said it was “concerned with media reports indicating that some members of the government have expressed reservations about the more liberal provisions of the Bill, and there is a threat that retrograde features might be reintroduced into the Bill by way of committee-stage amendments”.