Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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President’s directive on PTA needs to be built into law

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has issued a directive that the police should not use the Prevention of Terrorism Act as a shortcut to dispense with investigations under the criminal procedures code and to use it only if there are clear links to terrorism.  This presidential directive comes at a time when the government’s proposed amendments to the PTA have been criticized as being inadequate by UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in her report on Sri Lanka, by international human rights organisations and challenged in the Supreme Court by national organisations. 

Excerpts of the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s report on Sri Lanka on a wide range of issues relating to human rights have been highlighted in the media and are a matter for concern. We call on the government to focus on protecting the human rights of citizens, meeting the expectations of the international community and securing the GSP Plus tariff concession. We believe that this reform of the law can be a part of the structural transformation in the country essential to sustainable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. 

NPC notes the statement of the Human Rights Commission calling for the repeal of the PTA and that the offence of terrorism should be included in the Penal Code with a new definition for terrorism. We urge the government to provide a clear definition of the term “terrorism” in any future legislation which will prevent it from being used to arrest people for a wide variety of reasons, and also to make every arrest subject to judicial ratification.  The inclusion of the president’s directive to the preamble to the anti-terrorism legislation will serve to further strengthen the power of the judiciary to scrutinise police arrests under it and help put brakes on the prevailing culture of impunity.

National Peace Council of Sri Lanka

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