By Dianne Silva

Amnesty International (AI), yesterday, called on the Sri Lankan government to immediately release those being held in detention camps without charge and trial and to “amend repressive anti-terrorism laws to conform to international standards”.

The rights group also raised concerns about the country’s emergency laws at a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, yesterday. The report follows Minister of Human Rights and Plantation Industries Mahinda Samarasinghe’s statement at the HRC on the February 28, claiming that a number of ex-combatants had been released and that one of the detention camps would be closed. “The Government of Sri Lanka has sought the transfer of 676 ex-combatant detainees for rehabilitation and subsequent release. This reduction will make it possible to close one of two detention centres”, he had said.

During his speech in Geneva the minister made it explicitly clear that Sri Lanka would reduce its emergency laws only when it saw fit. Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem told Daily Mirror last night that the government would reduce emergency laws in a phased out manner.

“After having overcome one of the most dangerous terrorist outfits in the world we want to ensure that there if no repetition of these events and therefore the government will dismantle these anti-terrorism laws in a timely manner,” he said. “There are other countries which have less of a problem but still hold on to draconian laws, the US and UK were good examples of this. However we don’t want to follow in their footsteps therefore at the appropriate time the emergency laws will be phased out,” he added.

Source: Daily Mirror – 10.03.2011