The draft bill to extend the detention period of a suspect without a warrant to 48 hours was passed in Sri Lankan parliament by a majority of 77 votes yesterday (Jan. 22). At a vote, 110 members voted for the bill and 33 against, including the UNP, TNA and the JVP. The detention laws grant state authorities sweeping powers of detention and permit the use of secret prisons, a practice that encourages human rights abuses like enforced disappearances, torture and death in custody, which could constitute crimes under international law. In the last thirty years, thousands of Sri Lankans have spent years in detention without trial. Over the past year, the government has increasingly used these laws to crack down on journalists, political opponents, and trade unionists.]]>

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