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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sri Lanka: Chief Prelates raise concerns on proposed Anti-Terror Bill with President

Image: North East Tamils protests against Anti Terrorism Act .

  • Urge President to remove certain concerning provisions from proposed bill
  • Note that a strong opposition has arisen in the society against provisions that will violate right to expression and peaceful dissent
  • Stresse that employing various forms of censure instead of democratic form of governance can lead to confusion among public and even lead to social upheaval
  • Ask President to initiate an extensive dialogue with society and a panel of experts to make necessary amendments to the bill

The Chief Prelates of all three Buddhist sects have written to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill and have urged him to remove certain concerning provisions from it before passing it in Parliament. The Prelates noted that a strong opposition has arisen in the society against provisions that will violate the right to expression and peaceful dissent which are key components of a country’s democracy.

They also said that various Buddhist sutras have highlighted that creating a suitable mechanism to take policy decisions to resolve the various issues and needs of the people is an essential feature of successful governance. “Therefore, employing various forms of censure instead of a democratic form of governance can lead to confusion among the public about the Government’s responsibility and transparency even lead to social upheaval,” they said.

The Prelates raised their concerns about the broad definition of terrorism in the proposed bill which could allow for peaceful protests and any form of criticism against the Government to be identified as acts of terrorism.

According to them, passing such a law at a time when the people are calling for responsible governance could raise doubts about Sri Lanka’s democracy both locally and abroad.The Prelates are proposing the President initiate an extensive dialogue with society and through a panel of experts to make the necessary amendments to the bill. The letter to the President comes after Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s visit to Kandy where he met with the prelates of the Malwatta and Asgiri chapters yesterday where he championed the newly proposed bill, claiming the current law in existence is far more harmful to the general public.

FT

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