U.S. Says Sri Lanka Concerned of ‘Possible Growing Tamil Radicalism’ in North and East

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune US National Correspondent
“The possible resurgence of domestic militant Tamil groups is not an immediate concern, but efforts were underway to address possible growing Tamil radicalism in the north and east. The Sri Lankan government has used the fear of the possible re-emergence of the LTTE to maintain a strong military presence and role in the post-conflict areas, although the military’s continued heavy presence in the north feeds Tamil resentment”, was the assessment of the United States Department of States’ Country Reports on Terrorism for the year 2011 released Tuesday, July 31.

Having aired the concern of the government of Sri Lanka in its assessment the report noted that the United States refrained from lending assistance in that area to Sri Lanka using the following justification: “Counterterrorism cooperation and training with the United States was minimal due, in part, to statutory and policy restrictions based on concerns about alleged past human rights abuses committed by Sri Lankan security forces.”

Referring to the Sri Lanka government’s skepticism about non-governmental organizations (NGOs) the State Department Terrorism report notes “Although the LTTE has been militarily defeated, the Government of Sri Lanka asserts that sympathizers and organizational remnants have continued to fund-raise in many countries. The LTTE had used a number of non-profit organizations for terrorist financing purposes, including the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization. The Sri Lankan government actively searched for other financial links to the LTTE and remained suspicious of non-governmental organizations, fearing they would be used by the LTTE.”

Following is the full report on Sri Lanka:

Overview: In 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka militarily defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was seeking an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil people. The Sri Lankan government’s comprehensive and aggressive stance of countering terrorism is a direct result of its experience in the 30-year long conflict. In 2011, there were no incidents of terrorism in Sri Lanka.

The government cooperated with other countries on regional counterterrorism issues. Counterterrorism cooperation and training with the United States was minimal due, in part, to statutory and policy restrictions based on concerns about alleged past human rights abuses committed by Sri Lankan security forces.

The Government of Sri Lanka remained concerned that the LTTE’s international network of financial support still functions; most counterterrorism activities undertaken by the government targeted possible LTTE finances. The possible resurgence of domestic militant Tamil groups is not an immediate concern, but efforts were underway to address possible growing Tamil radicalism in the north and east. The Sri Lankan government has used the fear of the possible re-emergence of the LTTE to maintain a strong military presence and role in the post-conflict areas, although the military’s continued heavy presence in the north feeds Tamil resentment.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Counterterrorism legislation in Sri Lanka has focused on eliminating the remnants of the LTTE and enforcing general security throughout the island. The Sri Lankan government continued to implement the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) of 1978 (Act no.48), which was made a permanent law in 1982 and remained in force. The Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities Regulations No. 7 of 2006, which is the most recent version of Emergency Regulations, were allowed to lapse in September. On August 29, the day before the Emergency Regulations lapsed, the President issued new regulations under the PTA incorporating into it aspects of the Emergency Regulations that the PTA did not already include. Such regulations included proscribing the LTTE as a terrorist organization and keeping surrendered persons under rehabilitation.

The Terrorism Investigation Division of the Police has the primary responsibility for investigating terrorist activity. In March, Sri Lankan authorities arrested a suspected Maldivian terrorist carrying multiple passports. INTERPOL issued a statement that he was arrested for questioning in connection with the 2007 Sultan Park bombing, in the Maldives. The Sri Lankan government cooperated with both India and Maldives to gather proof in that case, but the suspect was released for lack of evidence. In October, the Sri Lankan police arrested an al-Qa’ida-affiliated Maldivian traveling on a forged Pakistani passport. Sri Lankan authorities were cooperative and assisted U.S. investigators following the arrest.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Sri Lanka is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Government of Sri Lanka amended the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act in September 2011. The main objective was to strengthen the respective legal regimes to remove deficiencies identified by the FATF in 2010 and the APG in 2006. The FATF had urged Sri Lanka to criminalize money laundering and terrorist financing and establish and implement adequate procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets. In addition, the Sri Lankan government has placed into effect the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, as well as created a specialized branch of the Central Bank – the Financial Intelligence Unit – to track possible terrorist financing.

Although the LTTE has been militarily defeated, the Government of Sri Lanka asserts that sympathizers and organizational remnants have continued to fund-raise in many countries. The LTTE had used a number of non-profit organizations for terrorist financing purposes, including the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization. The Sri Lankan government actively searched for other financial links to the LTTE and remained suspicious of non-governmental organizations, fearing they would be used by the LTTE.

Regional and International Cooperation:The Sri Lankan government remained committed to the counterterrorism efforts of international bodies such as the United Nations. The Sri Lanka Army held its “Seminar on Defeating Terrorism: The Sri Lankan Experience” May 31 to June 2, to discuss counterterrorism lessons learned. Forty-one countries attended the seminar, including South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation members, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States.

– Asian Tribune –

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