Proposed new national security laws must guarantee post-enactment judicial review, Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, Attorney-at-Law G.S. Lakshan J.S. Dias said.
National security laws cannot be absolute and there must be certain limits, he noted, observing that such legislation should not invade or violate the individual’s security, his/her right to privacy, personal liberties, and the freedom of the public.
The Government of Sri Lanka has stated that three new laws relating to the protection of national and public security and law and order, and to comprehensively and efficiently respond to contemporary manifestations and threats of extremism and terrorism, and other attacks (also due to organized crime) on national security, public order and the maintenance of essential services, will be enacted.
This involves the revision of anti-terrorism/counter-terrorism legislation, in particular replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and in keeping with international best practices.
“There cannot be any area which the judiciary cannot examine and revise. The proposed new national security laws cannot be vague and must be based on justice. They must not be used to harass opponents (including the political opposition) and minority communities, and to stifle dissent. There must be space provided for within the said laws for members of the public whose rights have been violated to challenge. The PTA is not practical within the national security laws. The PTA has aspects like the non-granting of bail and prolonged detention. These must be looked at and mitigated. The repeal of the PTA is very good. Such legislation in the United Kingdom has been repealed with new laws which can be reviewed by the Courts. This aspect is lacking here. India’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) of 2002, and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, are very dangerous,” he explained.