Sri Lanka’s new Anti-Terrorism Bill  ‘worse than PTA’ – ICJ

Sri Lanka’s new Anti-Terrorism Bill ‘worse than PTA’ – ICJ

March 31, 2023   08:15 pm

The International Commission of Jurists (IC) has raised concerns over the newly proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill in Sri Lanka.

Issuing a statement in this regard, the ICJ noted that they are ‘extremely concerned’ by the Bill in question, adding that clause 4(1) of the Bill, if adopted, would introduce the death penalty for the “terrorism offence of murder”.

“The ICJ is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, as a violation of the right to life, and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”, the statement read.

Further, ICJ’s Senior Adviser Livio Zilli said that  “Purported threats to national security, whether or not arising in connection with acts of ‘terrorism’, should not be used as a justification for the death penalty”.

Despite acknowledging that the Bill defeated certain discrepancies of the PTA, often referred to as a ‘draconian’ piece of legislation, the ICJ stated that the Bill still comprised of problematic aspects which outweighed the positives.

Citing several other clauses of the proposed Bill, Zilli stated “If enacted as currently formulated, these vague and overbroad offences, similar to and building up on those contained in the PTA, are open to abuse and, as such, they violate Sri Lanka’s international legal obligations and the country’s own constitutional guarantees under Article 13”.

Thus, despite consistently having called for the PTA to be repealed, the ICJ stated that while it renews these calls, it also urges that Sri Lanka immediately halt its attempts to replace it with an “even worse piece of legislation”.

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