May 04, Colombo: Sri Lankan government announced today that it has relaxed several provisions in the Emergency Regulations without causing any detriment to the national securityin order to return the country to normalcy and accelerate development.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told parliament during the debate to extend Emergency Regulations held today that some of the regulations involving holding meetings and gatherings, curfew, printing literature and providing householder's names to the police would be relaxed.
The Minister however said that the military would continue to enjoy police powers to deal with ongoing investigations into terrorist activities.
He said the government does not wish to continue the state of emergency but some emergency regulations are essential since the pro-LTTE groups are still attempting to spread terrorist activities to discredit the government.
Prof. Peiris said the government had done away with the provision with regard to the imposition of curfews in the country, as it restricted the liberty of people although it was essential for the security forces at that time to conduct military operations successfully.
The government has also removed the 'cluster of emergency regulations' that restricts processions and meetings if they are considered detrimental to national security.
The government had scrapped the regulation that put imperative obligations on the house owners to give information about their inmates.
Other emergency regulations that are relaxed include the provision that conferred powers on security forces to enter into private properties allegedly used to carry out various offensive activities and the provisions that exempted the security forces from certain laws such as motor traffic regulations.
The Minister said the state of emergency, continually imposed since the assassination of then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005, will gradually be eased as the terrorist activities in the country had decreased significantly.
The new parliament which convened today for its first sitting will reconvene tomorrow to debate the issue to bring about necessary amendments to relax emergency measures.
The government has meanwhile, reopened the segment of the road from Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha to Thunmulla junction on the Bauddaloka Mawatha (Bullers Road) that had been closed for a long time due to security reasons.
The employees, who work in the institutions, and students and teachers in the schools located in the area, welcomed the measure as it would make their daily commute less stressful. The state transport board and private bus owners have also welcomed the measure to reopen the road for public commuting.