1 Sep 2011

New version of detention powers introduced

10:07 am on 1 September 2011

The government in Sri Lanka has introduced new legislation allowing it to continue to detain without charge people who are suspected of terrorism.

Emergency laws which contained similar provisions, came to an end on Tuesday night.

The BBC reports they were first introduced in 1971 and were reintroduced during the civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels, who were defeated in 2009.

In an interview with the BBC, Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem said that more than 1000 suspects detained under the emergency laws were likely to be freed next month.

''Between 1200 - 1500 people in detention may get released, but there are some more who need to be kept in custody,'' he said.

Mr Hakeem said that people in this category were ''hard-core terrorist suspects'' who were likely to be detained until charged.

Correspondents say the new legislation allows the government to keep an undisclosed number of these suspects in prison.

Without the introduction of the new laws, they would have been freed because of the expiry of the state of emergency.