Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Governor Manning Reforms 1919
Ceylon Constitutional Order in Council 1946
Ceylon - United Kingdom Defence Agreement, 1948
Ceylon - United Kingdom External Affairs Agreement, 1948
Public Security Act 1947
Citizenship Act, 1948
Indian And Pakistani Residents (Citizenship), 1949 as amended
Royal Titles Act, 1953
Royal Executive Powers and Seals Act, 1954
Official Language Act, 1956
Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act, 1958
Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Regulations 1966
Sri Lanka Republic Act, 1972
Sri Lanka Constitution, 1972
Sri Lanka Constitution 1978 as amended
Sri Lanka Constitution - Without Amendments - in PDF
Prevention of Terrorism Act 1979
Indemnity Act - 1982
Sixth Amendment to 1978 Sri Lanka Constitution
Seventh Amendment to 1978 Sri Lanka Constitution
13th Amendment to 1978 Sri Lanka Constitution
Sixteenth Amendment to 1978 Sri Lanka Constitution
Seventeenth Amendment to 1978 Sri Lanka Constitution
Provincial Councils Act, 1987
Indemnity (Amendment) Act - 1988
Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations No. 1 of 1989
Emergency (Proscribing of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) Regulations No. 1 of 1989.
The Emergency (Restriction on Transport of Articles) Regulations No.1 of 1991
Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations 1994
Press Censorship Emergency Regulations No. 1 of 1998
Emergency (Proscribing of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) Regulations 1998
Sri Lanka Legislation & the Emergency - Report by the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, 1998
Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act, 25 of 2005
Geneva Conventions Act, 4 of 2006
Emergency (Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities) Regulations 2006

Related Offsite Links

Sri Lanka Laws at the Library of Congress
Selected Sri Lanka Laws
Sri Lanka Constitution
Sri Lanka Legal Information Network


....laws that have also provided a legal framework for torture, rape, extra judicial killings, censorship and disinformation, and systematic violation of human rights with impunity ...


The Sri Lanka's current legal system is based on Roman Dutch common law, interpreted by judges trained in English Law, and modified by Statutes often imported from England by the British colonial ruler.

In 1972, twenty four years after independence from British rule the dominant Sinhala Buddhist majority gave itself an authochchonous constitution, renamed the island as 'Sri Lanka' (the old Sinhala name) and ensured that the Constitution secured a dominant role for Buddhism.

Crimes were defined exhaustively by the Penal Code of 1883 and criminal procedure was regulated by the Criminal Procedure Code. However, increasingly, the normal laws of the land were suspended and rule under Emergency Regulations has become the norm. These periods of emergency rule include the following:

(1) 12 August 1953 - 11 September 1953;
(2) 27 May 1958 - 26 March 1959;
(3) 25 September 1959 - 03 December 1959;
(4) 17 April 1961 - 04 April 1963;
(5) 05 March 1964 - 04 April 1964;
(6) 08 January 1966 - 07 December 1966;
(7) 19 December 1966 - 18 January 1969;
(8) 26 October 1970 - 25 November 1970;
(9) 16 March 1971 - 15 February 1977;
(10) 29 November 1978 - 28 May 1979;
(11) 03 July 1979 - 27 December 1979;
(12) 16 July 1980 - 15 August 1980;
(13) 03 June 1981 - 09 June 1981;
(14) 17 August 1981 - 16 January 1982;
(15) 20 October 1982 - 20 January 1983;
(16) 18 May 1983 - 11 January 1989;
(17) 20 June 1989 to the present.

Article 155 of the Constitution provides the formal basis for the declaration of a state of emergency in Sri Lanka. It empowers the President of the Republic to make emergency regulations under the Public Security Ordinance or under any other law for the time being in force relating to public security. Such regulations may over-ride all existing law except provisions of the constitution. The Ordinance also provides that no suit or prosecution can be initiated against any person for acts done or purported to be done under emergency regulations or orders except with the consent of the Attorney-General

The Public Security Ordinance is a pre-independence law enacted in 1947 which allows the President, during the existence or imminence of a public emergency, to declare a state of emergency if he is of the opinion that it is expedient to do so in the interests of public security or the preservation of public order or for the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community. By a constitutional amendment introduced in 1987 such a declaration was made immune from challenge in any court of law.

Emergency Regulations have been made on several occasions under the Public Security Ordinance. Until 1988 such regulations automatically lapsed at the end of one month from the date of proclamation of the emergency, and had to be re-enacted even if the emergency was extended by parliamentary approval; but a 1988 amendment to the Ordinance dispensed with that requirement.

The most important of these regulations are the Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations (EMPPR) These provide inter alia for detention without charge or trial on renewable detention orders. (An earlier version of the EMPPR allowed the police to take possession of and bury or cremate any corpse without informing the relatives of the dead person, and to dispense with inquests. That provision was repealed in February 1990.) The Emergency Regulations have been amended several times.

In January 1994 following a period of considerable acrimony between the government and some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the voluntary sector, the government issued the Monitoring of Receipts and Disbursements of Non Governmental Organisations Regulations No. 1 of 1993 which sought to bring NGOs under greater state control. Under these regulations, all NGOs having an annual income of over Rs. 50,000 are obliged to register with the Director of Social Services and to file detailed statements of accounts including particulars of their sources of income and disbursements, and names and addresses of persons benefitting from such disbursements on pain of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.

The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1979 (PTA) has also been widely used. Originally enacted for a period of three years, the Act was amended and made permanent in 1982. It provides for the detention for up to 18 months, without trial and without access to lawyers or relatives, of any person suspected of a wide range of offences including murder, kidnapping, criminal intimidation, robbery of state property, possession of unlicensed weapons, incitement to communal disharmony, mutilation of street signs, etc.

In a significant departure from ordinary criminal law, the Act allows confessions made to the police admissible in evidence and shifts the burden of proof in certain cases to the defence. It also provides for retrospective application of its provisions so that actions which were committed before it came into force are also punishable as offences.

In addition, several Curfew Orders were made under the EMPPR from time to time. Other measures enacted during the current emergency include:

(1) The Mobilisation and Supplementary Forces Act 1985, which provides for compulsory conscription of all sections of the population and enables the setting up of a National Auxiliary Force, para-military forces, the Home Guard and a Civil Defence Force

(2) The Indemnity (Amendment) Act 1988, which provides immunity from prosecution for government servants, security force personnel and other law enforcement officials for any actions done by them "in good faith" in the period between 1 August 1977 and 16 December 1988

(3) Declarations/Derogations A number of Proclamations have been issued by the President to cover each of the four states of emergency mentioned above.

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