Lawyers portended that the three proposed national security laws could be akin to the USA PATRIOT Act, the long title of which is the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
The laws in question are the National Security Act, the Prevention of Organized Crimes Act which is to replace the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 and the Intelligence Act, all recently proposed by the Government. They aim to prevent the reemergence of terrorism, consolidate inter communal harmony, and protect the rule of law, amongst other things. Certain provisions of the said National Security Act are also to be incorporated into the proposed new Constitution.
Senior Lecturer at the Department of Commercial Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo, Attorney-at-Law Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa remarked that such a law could suppress citizens as law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America are on occasion and in certain circumstances allowed the search of a personal computer sans a warrant, operating solely on the basis of suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
If such a law like the USA PATRIOT Act is brought here it could further tighten the stranglehold on the people, he pointed out.
“National interests and national security must be defined. Otherwise it could be prejudicial to those who are innocent. In America, even if one is connected or not, just having a Muslim name could be a trigger and may mean that one becomes a target,” he mentioned.