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High Security Zones? BASL hits out at using Official Secrets Act

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COLOMBO (News 1st) – The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) emphasizes that the section 2 of the Official Secrets Act enables to declare any land, building, ship, or aircraft as a prohibited place, and does not empower the Minister to declare large areas as High Security Zones.On Friday (23), Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared multiple areas in Colombo as High Security Zones.

Accordingly, unless the prior written permission of the Inspector General of Police or Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Western Province is obtained, no person shall conduct or hold a public gathering or procession whatsoever on a road, ground, shore or other open area situated within the High Security Zones.The BASL states that it is deeply concerned with regard to the e declaration of certain areas in Colombo as High Security Zones, and whether the purported order of the President also seeks to create offences under the said order which are not found in the Principal Act.The statement reads; " It is also of utmost concern that the purported order imposes stringent provisions in respect of bail by stating that a person taken into custody in connection with an offence under the said orders shall not be granted bail except by a High Court.

The Official Secrets Act contains no such provisions, and in fact Section 22 of the Act empowers a Magistrate to release a suspect on Bail.

As such the purported order seeks to significantly curtail the liberty of the citizen, without any reasonable or legal basis.The BASL is deeply concerned that under the cover of the purported order under Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act that there is the imposition of draconian provisions for the detention of persons who violate such.

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