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Changes to detainee law only with party leaders consent – Govt. - Insists that legislation is to...

Sep 9, 2011 2:54:47 PM - www.ft.lk

Insists that legislation is to assist security, essential for prosperity and will not be misused

By Uditha Jayasinghe
In a positive move the government yesterday decided to get the agreement of all political party members before presenting amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code.
Acting Cabinet Spokesman Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana told reporters that the government has decided to discuss any amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code with party leaders before the legislation in presented in the House.

The move comes a day after the main opposition questioned the legality of the amendment proposed to the Criminal Procedure Code, which resulted in it being postponed. The proposal was to extend the time that a detainee could be held before being presented to a court from 24 hours to 48.

However, Abeywardana was quick to defend the government move saying that it was necessary for the country’s security. “When the Emergency Regulations were lifted there was a need to consider how the security of the country was assured. Therefore these are considerations that have to be made.” He added that the government has no intent to hold people without charges.
Earlier the Attorney General remarked that the government was drafting out regulations to strengthen the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Nonetheless he did not mention when the discussions with party leaders would begin.
Recalling how the country has enjoyed economic growth since the end of the war the Minister insisted that the development had happened because the government was able to stamp out the threat of terrorism. “This is not to deny freedom to the people.”
Describing the legal right to keep a detainee for 24 hours without taking legal action as a “small power” Abeywardana stressed that this was simply to give police and other officials the chance to conduct adequate investigations to bring charges.
“We all know that there were members of the LTTE and that if released would do harm to this country. All that the government is seeking to do is prevent damage to the country. Nowadays we hear of the grease devil phenomenon and this could be something targeted at dividing our country once again.
It is only right that the government should have the mechanisms to protect the country,” he said.      
Terming the move to seek a party consensus, a fine example of democracy the Minister stressed that the government was doing everything it its power to arrive at an amicable solution.         

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