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Sri Lanka to end emergency laws

The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday announced it would lift emergency laws that have been in place for 30 years, though Parliament [official website] would renew [text] some provisions temporarily. The emergency laws were established [Hindustan Times report] during the nearly 30-year civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive]. Most clauses of the Public Security Ordinance, which permits suspects to be detained indefinitely and without charge, have already been abolished. Sri Lankan Prime Minister DM Jayaratne [official website] told Parliament that some clauses would remain necessary, even though the civil war ended in 2009.

The Sri Lankan emergency laws have been in a state of flux in recent years. Sri Lankan lawmakers voted in May 2010 to extend the state of emergency [JURIST report] for another month, but reduced some of the toughest provisions. Parliament lifted certain restrictions [BBC report] on assembly and distributing literature and reduced the power of soldiers to conduct searches. In March of the same year, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] announced [JURIST report] that the then-dissolved Sri Lankan Parliament would reconvene to ratify a one-month extension to the current state of emergency. Variations of the security measures have been reintroduced since 2005 when foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was allegedly assassinated by LTTE rebels.

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