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article imageAmnesty International-Free Sri Lanka of Draconian Emergency Laws

By Heike Winnig     Apr 20, 2010 in Politics
In today’s press release, Amnesty International announced that it is calling on Sri Lanka to end the State of Emergency that has been in force for almost 39 years. Furthermore, the post-war parliament is to terminate the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
This hope inspiring news for thousands of Tamils has come by way of a devoted and determined, with always an ear to the ground, source. A person who never gives up in the fight for justice of a nation and a people, who have been exploited and broken, not to mention forced off their lands and displaced, for decades.
The excellent and gripping article, “Has situation improved for the 380,000 Tamil IDPs?”, by Andrew Moran of Digital Journal, published April 16, 2010, has garnered much needed attention to the oppressive situation that exists in Sri Lanka since the civil war ended in 2009. Though obviously, the authoritarianism and tyranny goes much further back than that according to Amnesty International, who will be calling on Sri Lanka's government prior to the first post-war parliament due to take place on April 22.
Amnesty International wants the emergency security laws and regulations replaced by “human rights-friendly laws.” The emergency laws bestow state authorities absolute powers of detention and allow the use of secret prisons, which have brought about disappearances of Sri Lanka citizens, not to mention torture and death in custody. According to Amnesty International, this could constitute crimes under international law. The organization affirmed that within the past thirty years, thousands of Sri Lankans have spent years in detention without trial.
They also stress that over the last year, the Sri Lankan government has progressively used these state of emergency laws to their own ends to crack down on journalists, political opponents and trade unionists.
“Sri Lanka must repeal these laws and end impunity for human rights violations if it wants to move forward,” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director. “The Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Public Security Ordinance and other emergency provisions in Sri Lanka enable security forces to systematically violate human rights.”
Mr. Malhotra continues, “The war is over. Perpetuation of the emergency is now just being used as a weapon against political opposition, and as a quick fix for poor law enforcement practices and a dysfunctional justice system.”
Amnesty International is pressing for the release of people who have been detained under Sri Lanka’s emergency laws, unless they are charged with an internationally recognized criminal offence, in which case, they are to be tried in regular civilian courts to international standards of fair judicial procedures.
The organization is also concerned that security forces have used the general intimidation of far-reaching powers under these emergency laws to coerce people. The laws have been used to curb freedom of expression and human connection. They have stepped up pressure on human rights activists, journalists, trade unionists and others, whom they consider to have disloyal, if not rebellious, views.
(Source: Amnesty International Press Office, London, UK –
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