May 28, 2019
The laws were put in place after last month’s terrorism attack.
Sri Lanka’s President announced on 27 May he will allow harsh emergency laws to lapse within a month because the security situation was “99% back to normal” following the Easter bombings.
Maithripala Sirisena told envoys from Australia, Canada, Japan, the US and European states that security forces had been successful in getting all those responsible for the 21 April attacks.
Emergency laws, which give sweeping powers to the military to arrest and detain suspects, were promulgated a day after the bombings that killed 258 people and wounded nearly 500.
The suicide attacks against three churches and three luxury hotels were blamed on local jihadi group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) which has since been banned.
“The emergency was declared to deal with the immediate security situation,” Sirisena was quoted as having told the diplomats. “However, it will not be necessary to extend this any further.”
The emergency can be declared for a month at a time. Sirisena extended the period on May 22 and it will lapse in a month unless he prolongs it.
Sirisena said he, as the Minister of Defence and Law & Order, was restructuring the security forces to ensure there will be no repetition of the terror attacks that shattered a decade-long peace in the country.
The attacks exposed serious security failures.
Sirisena has ordered an investigation into why local authorities failed to act on precise intelligence from India that jihadists were about to hit churches and other targets in Sri Lanka.
The mainly Buddhist nation of 21 million people was about to mark a decade since ending a 37-year-long Tamil separatist war when Islamic extremists struck.
Sirisena reiterated to foreign envoys that Sri Lankan security forces have either arrested or killed all those directly involved in the Easter Sunday bombings.
Police say over 100 people, including 10 women are in custody in connection with the attacks.
Security forces have detained a further 100 suspects in four days of cordon-and-search operations centred around the capital Colombo’s suburbs since 23 May.
The Sri Lankan government has come in for criticism for being dysfunctional with the Prime Minister and President, who belong to different political groups, not being on the same page in the months preceding the terror attack.
This schism apparently extended to the security establishment with vital intelligence reports not being shared with key officials.
The government’s response to the attacks on Muslims in the aftermath of the bombings, which drew a sharp rebuke from the United Nations which Colombo has described as “completely unfair”, is also perceived to have been less than ideally coordinated because of it.