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State of emergency extended despite Tamil protests

The parliament unanimously approved the tough laws that allow police to detain suspects for long periods without a warrant.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 12:51 IST

Sri Lanka's parliament on Thursday extended by a further month the state of emergency it declared five months ago despite protests by minority Tamil legislators.

The parliament was in session for just five minutes and unanimously approved the tough laws that allow security forces and police to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without a warrant from a magistrate, officials said.

Legislators from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) tried to block speaker WJM Lokubandara from conducting the day's business by creating a din, but the assembly passed the extension without putting it to a formal vote.

The TNA, a proxy of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), continued its uproar in the 225-member assembly for a third consecutive day to protest what they called human rights violations by security forces.

The TNA has 22 members in parliament. A top TNA MP, Joseph Pararajasingham, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman during a Christmas service at a church in eastern Sri Lanka.

TNA legislator R Sampanthan said the lawmakers were protesting attacks against civilians in the island's restive regions, where he claimed government forces were colluding with a breakaway group of Tigers to carry out attacks.

The TNA also opposes search operations carried out by security forces under emergency laws.

The constitution requires that the state of emergency be approved by parliament before it can be extended for a maximum period of one month at a time.

The state of emergency was imposed shortly after the August 12 assassination of then foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar by a suspected Tiger sniper.

The government accused Tiger rebels of carrying out the killing, a claim they rejected.

The rebels had asked the government to lift the state of emergency saying it was adding pressure to an already tenuous ceasefire which peace broker Norway arranged and put in place from February 2002.

Diplomatic efforts to review and salvage the truce remain deadlocked over disagreement on a neutral venue while the latest upsurge in violence has claimed the lives of at least 136 people, including 79 security personnel.

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 12:51 IST