Monitors say Navy restrictions violate truce

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 June 2002, 00:19 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government’s gazette notification of fishing restrictions issued last week under the Prevention of Terrorism Act conflicts with the provisions of the ceasefire agreement the government signed with the Liberation Tigers, press reports Thursday quoted international truce monitors as saying.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission said the new gazette notification on fishing restrictions appeared to over-ride provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement, the Daily Mirror reported.

SLMM Deputy Chief Hagrup Haukland told the Daily Mirror the new gazette notification was not in accordance with the Agreement.

According to the ceasefire agreement which came into effect on February 23 (and is referred to as D-day), "a gradual easing of the fishing restrictions shall take place starting from D-day."

"As of D-day + 90, all restrictions on day and night fishing shall be removed, subject to the following exceptions: (i) fishing will not be permitted, within an area of 1 nautical mile on either side along the coast and 2 nautical miles seawards from all security forces camps on the coast; (ii) fishing will not be permitted in harbours or approaches to harbours, bays and estuaries along the coast," the agreement states.

But several complaints had been received from Tamil fishermen about harassment by Sri Lankan forces and the continued maintenance of strict restrictions. Haukland told the Daily Mirror that the complaints by the fishermen were being looked into though no official complaints had been made by the LTTE.

The government issued a gazette notification dated May 23, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act specifying areas in the North-East that have been restricted for fishing. The administrative districts of Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mannar and the adjacent territorial sea were those under restrictions for fishing purposes.

In addition it states that no person will be allowed to enter the areas in the North and East identified as "restricted areas" as specified in the schedule to the regulations, in any boat or vessel or in any other manner, or remain within or ply any boat or vessel within any such area without the written authority.

Otherwise the police or any of the armed forces would be able to detain any such persons entering these restricted areas and they could be tried under the PTA.

However, the ceasefire agreement also states that “The Parties agree that search operations and arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act shall not take place. Arrests shall be conducted under due process of law in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.”


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