In the forthcoming parliamentary session, the Justice Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, announced that a revised Anti-Terrorism Bill, featuring notable changes such as the inadmissibility of confessions made to the police in court and a maximum initial detention period of 30 days, will be presented among a set of eight bills. Four of these bills are amendments to existing laws.
The bills scheduled for presentation include the Anti-Terrorism Bill (for the first reading), the National Hydrographic Bill, the Contempt of a Court Tribunal or Institution Bill, the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Bill, the Recognition and Enforcement of International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation Bill, the Notaries (Amendment) Bill, the Powers of Attorney (Amendment) Bill, the Prevention of Frauds (Amendment) Bill, and the Mediation Board (Amendment) Bill. Minister Rajapakshe emphasized that all but the Anti-Terrorism Bill are intended for the second reading in Parliament.
The revised Anti-Terrorism Bill, shaped by input from various stakeholders and the diplomatic community, will undergo its first reading in Parliament next week. Minister Rajapakshe highlighted key alterations, such as shifting the power to issue detention orders from the Minister of Defence to the Defence Ministry Secretary. The issuance of detention orders will now be based on the Inspector General of Police’s recommendation.
Additionally, the new bill excludes the admissibility of confessions made to a police officer in court and introduces a unique definition of terrorism, as there is no internationally recognized definition. The detention period under the revised bill will be reduced from 90 to 30 days, with the option for extension subject to approval by a magistrate.
Apart from the Anti-Terrorism Bill, the government is introducing the National Hydrographic Bill to fulfil Sri Lanka’s obligations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. This bill aims to establish a National Hydrographic Office, enabling the local production of hydrographic maps to save substantial annual funds lost due to overseas purchases. Minister Rajapakshe estimates an annual loss of Rs. 60 to 70 billion and anticipates that the new bill will retain these funds within Sri Lanka.
Source : based on Sunday times story