Death penalty for terrorism

Lakshman Kiriella

The new Counter-Terrorism Bill proposes timely and stringent laws to tackle global terrorism unlike the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1979.

Addressing the media, Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella said the new Counter-Terrorism Bill proposes the death penalty for the offence of terrorism if such an act caused any others deaths.

He pointed out the existing Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1979 does not have the provision to impose the death penalty for a terrorist.The Government initially proposed life imprisonment for an act of terrorism if it caused the death of other persons, but the minister said the Clause would be amended in the third reading to impose the death penalty for such an offence as per the Supreme Court ruling. The Minister further said the new legislation empowers the Army to arrest persons after search operations and hand them over to the Police.

“The PTA does not have this provision. The new legislation also enables to implement the law against any suspect, involved in an act of terrorism elsewhere in the world, if he is residing in Sri Lanka. Not being a citizen of this country is not a hindrance to implement the law against such a person as per the new Bill,” he said.

“I would like to ask those opposing the new legislation whether they are against the imposition of the death penalty for terrorists. Are they of the opinion that we do not want updated laws to tackle global terrorism? The PTA, which was based on the 1974 UK legislation, is 40 years old,” he said. Since then the UK Act has been revised on 10 occasions. When we discussed the proposed legislation with Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa about one and half months ago, he was in agreement to it. He has suddenly changed his stance.

We request the Opposition Leader to support this endeavour. We can discuss the content of the Bill Clause by Clause,” he said. “Our intention in bringing in this Bill is to impose stringent laws against terrorism. The allegations that it stifles the media and Trade Union actions are baseless. “We request the Opposition to use the Parliamentary debate on the extension of emergency due next week to air their concerns on the Counter-Terrorism Bill,” said the Minister adding that the President’s proclamation of extending the State of Emergency, which was initially gazetted for a month, is expected next week. Responding to a question by a journalist, the minister said appointing a Parliament Select Committee to review the Counter-Terrorism Bill would delay the Bill for at least another three months.


Media responsible for reporting the truth

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that he is personally against the blocking of social media platforms.

Responding to a question by a journalist at a press conference at his Ministry premises yesterday, Kiriella said that the Government has always stood for media freedom and the media in turn have a responsibility to report the truth.

“I am in the habit of going through web based media for about two hours every morning. I too was deprived of the access to such information following the blockade. I felt a big vacuum in my life,” he commented.

(Government News Portal)