President Maithripala Sirisena using the power vested in him, under Emergency Regulations No. 01 of 2019, has taken steps to ban National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI) of Sri Lanka, the President’s Media Unit said yesterday.
As a result, all activities of both organisations and their property will be frozen under government regulations.
As identified by the State Intelligence, the Easter day attack which brought death to 253 people and wounded 500 people, had commissioned by the NTJ, a homegrown Islamic extremist group. Following the attack, the international terror outfit, ISIS claimed responsibility.
A statement by the President’s Media Unit yesterday stated that further steps will be taken under Emergency Regulations to ban other extremist organisations operating in Sri Lanka as well.
The government has taken steps to ban the two organisations following requests by various civic groups including the Muslim community organisations.
Three days ago, 29 Moulavis of Polonnaruwa presented a letter urging the government on the importance of banning the extremist organisation, National Tawheed Jamat (NTJ) with immediate effect. They handed over the letter to the SSP Polonnaruwa, Dhammika Weerasekara at the Police Headquarters.
As reported there are three mosques belonging to the Thawheed Jamaath in Manikkampattu, Thambala and Sungavila in Polonnaruwa.
President Maithripala Sirisena has also taken steps to draft a new Act to ban terrorist organisations such as Thowheed Jamath in the future. In drafting the new Act, the government will go by Acts passed in other countries which were subjected to similar attacks by extremist religious groups.
President Sirisena at the meeting with media heads last Friday denied all reports about the presence of a foreign forces in Sri Lanka and stressed that no military forces have arrived in Sri Lanka. He said that only officers related to suppressing ISIS terrorists in other countries have arrived in Sri Lanka to assist in the ongoing investigations. He also assured the media that the security forces will continue islandwide investigations to arrest all those related to the Sunday attacks.
The existing laws were sufficient for Sri Lanka to ban the IS if the government wanted, lawyers said. Attorney-at-Law Thishya Weragoda said even though Sri Lanka’s laws are not up to date, there was enough provision for the government to do something, especially under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). During an interview with Sky News, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the country lacked laws to arrest those who join a foreign terrorist organisations and later return to the country.
Weragoda said the PTA permits the proscription of the IS. “Since it is an overseas terrorist organisation, it can be proscribed in Sri Lanka,” he said adding that the TRO was an entity that operated in Sri Lanka, and was banned in 2011.The Emergency Regulations, however, lapse when the State of Emergency lapses. Legal experts said that the President can use this opportunity to introduce a law to proscribe terrorist groups. Other experts noted that detailed and unambiguous provisions to ban both local and foreign terrorist groups are included in the Counter Terrorism Bill that the Government has been trying to enact in recent months.