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* Amnesty urges Sri Lanka's new parliament to scrap Emergency Law
Wed, Apr 21, 2010, 11:22 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 21, Colombo: The human rights watch dog Amnesty International (AI) Wednesday urged Sri Lanka's new parliament to do away with the draconian Emergency Law that gives sweeping powers to the authorities to commit human right abuses.

"Sri Lanka's first post-war parliament must get rid of draconian emergency laws that have allowed for decades of widespread human rights abuses," the AI said in a press release issued today.

The organization called on Sri Lanka to lift the State of Emergency, abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act and other associated emergency security laws and regulations and replace them with human rights-friendly laws.

The AI expressed concern that the security forces have used the general threat of their wide ranging powers under the emergency laws to intimidate people.

"Because they provide for vaguely and broadly defined offenses such as "terrorism," the emergency laws have also been used to restrict freedom of expression and association, increase pressure on human rights activists, journalists, trade unionists and others holding dissenting views," the AI said.

Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director Ms. Madhu Malhotra said Sri Lanka must repeal these laws and end impunity for human rights violations if it wants to move forward.

"The war is over. Perpetuation of the emergency is now just being used as a weapon against political opposition, and as a quick fix for poor law enforcement practices and a dysfunctional justice system," said Malhotra.

Sri Lanka government has come under severe criticism from European and Western countries for its poor human right record, especially over the alleged abuses during the last phase of the war between the security forces and the terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The European Union in February decided to temporarily suspend its GSP+ tariff concession to Sri Lanka alleging that the country has not taken steps to improve its human rights record.

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