The People’s Struggle Center opposes the Prevention of Terrorism Act enacted in 1979 as well as the new Counter-Terrorism Bill and demands that the government abolishes the old Act and withdraws the new Bill that it intends introducing.
Several clauses from the bill enacted in 1979 have been removed and several more flagrant clauses have been entered, it is a bill to implement state terrorism on the pretext of countering terrorism and if the bill is enacted the right to engage in trade union activities too would be abolished.
The definition of terrorism is completed by simply identifying an act and linking it to one of the ‘intentions’ set out in Clause 3(1)(a) to (d). Each of the ‘intentions’ are broadly defined. This means of defining terrorism is overly broad and fails to build in the safeguards advocated by the international approach of ‘trigger offence’ and ‘cumulative approach’.
The potential to leverage existing fear and bigotry towards an ethnic minority, a political ideology or religious group, in the application of the definition by the police is strong. The potential for those in political power to utilize the power hereby placed in the hands of the police officer is also strong.
The dangers of the overboard definition in its application to ordinary crime is patent on the face of the definition. The creation of such a legal categorization must be scientific and ensure that it targets the genuine mischief it intends to curtail.
The said Bill by Clauses 17 and 20 empowers a police officer, member of the armed forces and coastguard the power to.The said Bill removes the judiciary’s oversight of executive powers which deprives individuals of their liberty. Clause 31 read together with Clause 27(2)(a) authorises a Deputy Inspector General of Police to issue Detention Orders which are not required to satisfy any standard of information or evidence to ensure that the detention of the suspect is conducted on adequate grounds and/or criteria.
This is reinforced by the format for Detention Orders prescribed in the Bill’s Fourth Schedule where there is no requirement to indicate the basis or information upon which the detention is justified. This Clause of the Bill deprives the judiciary of exercising its functions.
There are several harmful clauses in the new Bill. The employees of the state and private sectors oppose when they do not get due rights or when they are treated unfairly. They have a right to oppose. According to the proposed amendment to PTA, the President can make their services essential services. The issue is that the new Bill describes hindrances to the essential services as terrorist acts. It is a very dangerous situation. According to the existing law they did not become guilty for a terrorist act. However, with the proposed Bill it could be so. How could such trade union action be classified as terrorist acts? What they have done is to grab the right of the people to oppose. According to the Bill, obstructing or damaging any essential infrastructure facility is an offence. This is a very dangerous situation and the progressive masses should insist the parliament not to pass this law.