09/01/2011, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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New anti-terror laws, another "state of emergency"

Searches without warrants and detention of potential suspects without charges. On 25 August the President Mahinda Rajapaksa had declared the end to the state of emergency. In a month, in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council will discuss the war crimes allegedly committed by the army in the late stages of the ethnic conflict.
Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A few days after the declaration of the end state of emergency, Sri Lanka’s government has approved a "new" set of anti-terror laws. In fact, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) will keep most of the rules in force during the state of emergency, including searches without warrant and detention of potential suspects without charges.

President Rajapaksa’s announcement an end to the state of emergency on August 25 last, was met by some figures in the Christian world with doubts about the reality of this move, confirmed by the news of these "new" laws. However, the government defends its choice calling it a "preemptive" measure, created to "manage" issues concerning the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) terrorist organization in the absence of an emergency law.

Next month, more than a thousand suspects - arrested during the war – are scheduled to be released, because of the end of the state of emergency. The attorney general said that their possible release or prosecution will be considered on a case by case basis.

Since 1971 the country has experienced tensions, bombings and guerrilla warfare in the fight against the Tamil Tigers. Except for short periods, for over 30 years Sri Lanka lived under a state of emergency, subjected to draconian laws which granted wide powers to security forces.

The decision to announce the end of the state of emergency comes just one month from the next meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where the alleged war crimes committed by the army during the last phases of the ethnic conflict are set to be discussed.

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