Colombo: Sri Lanka will introduce new laws to prevent terrorism as the existing ones are not adequate to deal with terror attacks like the massive Easter Sunday bombings, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said. Recalling that three months have passed after the country’s worst terror attacks that killed 258 people at three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo on 21 April, Wickremesinghe said after the suicide bombings, everyone feared that the country would collapse.
“There was a great fear among people. That’s why we first decided to detain all terrorists by police and prosecute them. Secondly, we need to bring a new system to ensure the country’s security so that this does not happen again,” he was quoted as saying by the ColomboPage. Speaking at an event held in Matara to mark the 97th International Cooperative Day, the premier said even before two months after the attacks, for which police have blamed a local jihadi group, all the living suspects linked to the terrorist attacks including the ones living abroad have been arrested.
Sri Lankan police have detained about 200 suspects in connection with supporting the local National Thowheed Jama’ath group to carry out the bombings and are investigating them under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and it is only the first step, the prime minister said. “Till now we faced LTTE terrorism. But this is different. Capturing the group connected to Easter Sunday’s attacks will not end this kind of terrorism. We cannot face the ISIS terrorism by looking at the LTTE terrorism. We need to think a new strategy. New laws are needed and these laws need to be changed,” he said.
Pointing out that in England the laws dealing with terrorism had been amended 15 times between 2001 and 2019, the prime minister said the existing laws in Sri Lanka are not adequate to deal with this kind of terrorism. He said the laws will be brought requiring the Customs, Immigration and Emigration Department, Motor Vehicle Department and number of other departments to work together and the government is working on drafting laws necessary to prevent terrorism and getting them passed.
The country’s police chief and the then official in charge of the defence ministry are being prosecuted for not acting on prior information about the attacks. The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for the attacks.