Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has slammed the proposed counter terrorism law saying the draft leaves room for legitimate political and trade union action as well as the dissemination of information and protection of sources by the media to be labelled as terrorist activity.
He said that in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings, the Government has been trying to sell their Counter Terrorism Bill to the public with the claim that it has provisions to prohibit Sri Lankan nationals from having links with foreign terrorist organisations.
“While the Government’s proposed law is tough on ordinary citizens by having provisions that can be used to stifle political dissent and the freedom of expression, it is designed to treat terrorists with the utmost leniency to the extent where its actual effect will be that of protecting and giving encouragement to terrorists – not countering terrorism,” Rajapaksa said.
He also said that the proposed counter terrorism law also requires the Police and the armed forces to treat terrorist suspects with the utmost solicitude.
“Even in sentencing a terrorist after conviction under the proposed counter terrorism law, a reduced sentence can be handed down after considering mitigating factors such as a public denunciation of terrorism, provision of reparations to the victims and a public denouncement of violence etc. The Government’s proposed counter terrorism law is in fact a comprehensive relief package for terrorists,” he said.
Rajapaksa warned that if the proposed Counter Terrorism Bill is passed into law, it will seriously hamper ongoing efforts to suppress terrorism following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.