End of Emergency

By R.K. Radhakrishnana

, by Frontline

Two years after the LTTE’s decimation, President Mahinda Rajapaksa proposes the lifting of the state of emergency in Sri Lanka.

A day before the delayed debate on Sri Lankan Tamils took off in the Indian Parliament and just over a fortnight before the 18th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is scheduled to meet, President Mahinda Rajapaksa proposed to the Sri Lankan Parliament that the state of emergency in the island nation need not be extended.

“I would like to present to this supreme Parliament the proposal to repeal the emergency regulations for administrative activities to function democratically under the ordinary law. This is because I am satisfied with the fact that there is no longer a need for extending the emergency regulations for the administration of the country now. Therefore, I propose not to extend the emergency regulations,” he told Parliament on August 25. With this announcement, the state of emergency will be lifted on September 8, when the current Act lapses.

[...] Emergency laws are not new in Sri Lanka, which has seen frequent violence since the time it gained independence. However, it was the violent agitation by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) that led to the first such serious repressive measure. With each new problem since the early 1970s, the government sought to circumvent existing laws and enact more draconian ones. Often, these have been overlapping and vague in definition and have been derided by human rights organisations for not allowing even basic individual rights. In some cases, these laws grant the security forces blanket immunity from prosecution.

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