By Shamindra Ferdinando
Alleging that five former LTTE cadres arrested in connection with an alleged attempt to assassinate TNA lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran had been produced before the Kilinochchi Magistrate and District judge and remanded till Feb 13 on a charge of possessing explosives and narcotics instead of under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said the government should explain its position vis-a-vis key anti-terrorism legislation.
A government that had been preaching to the public of the importance of the Right to Information shouldn’t keep the people in the dark regarding vital matters, he said.
Prof, Peiris told The Island last night that the Joint Opposition would like to know whether the government had suspended the PTA consequent to talks with the EU as well as various other parties regarding far reaching changes to counter terrorism legislation and amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act.
Had they already suspended the PTA pending the introduction of a new Counter Terrorism Law, Prof. Peiris asked and added that the JO would closely monitor investigations into alleged political assassination attempt. The former Law Professor said that the EU shouldn’t be allowed to influence the decision making process in respect of security matters.
The EU delegation declined to comment on the alleged attempt on TNA MP Sumanthiran’s life.
Prof. Peiris yesterday warned of dire consequences due to dismantling of what the former eminent law professor called a tight security apparatus maintained by the previous government.
In accordance with their overall security strategy, the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs had maintained constant dialogue with countries where diaspora had been strong and active. As a result, there had been several successful prosecutions of members of the terrorist LTTE in Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy, he noted.
Prof. Peiris was addressing a group of trade union representatives at former President’s office at Nelum Mawatha, Battaramulla.
The former Vice Chancellor of the Colombo University recalled the operations undertaken by the previous government to meet the threat posed by diaspora elements. There had been a constant flow of information from various sources due to the previous government’s initiatives. Unfortunately, Prof. Peiris said the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration had dismantled vital security apparatus thereby paving the way for those disruptive elements to advance their agenda inimical to the country.
Although the LTTE had been militarily defeated in May 2009, the country couldn’t have afforded to do away with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Prof. Peiris said. “We realized the requirement to maintain a robust security system to ensure a peaceful environment. But, the yahapalana rulers are engaged in a project to abolish the PTA and to amend some major provisions in the Public Security Ordinance.”
Prof. Peiris pointed out that a top level discussion chaired by Prime Minister and the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Dec 16, 2016 at Temple Trees revealed extremely dangerous path the present leadership was taking at the expense of national security. Alleging that yahapalana rulers had absolutely no concerns regarding national security matters, prof. Peiris recalled how the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) summoned him following a statement he made regarding the recovery of explosives, including one suicide jacket and claymore mines at Chavakachcheri, Jaffna early last year.
Having mollycoddled terrorists and those who had been based abroad and pushing for a country divided on ethnic lines, the recent alleged attempt on the life of TNA lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran must have come as a total shock to them, Prof. Peiris said. Having jeopardized national security for narrow political gains, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was struggling in the face of new threat, he said.