A European Parliament (EU) Commissioner expressed severe concerns on the government’s failure to revisit the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as it committed before its readmission to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) in 2017.
Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality delivering a speech at the EP plenary session debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law noted that Parliament rightly emphasised that security forces continue to apply the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which deprives detainees of due process rights, authorises executive sanctioned detention without charge, and has facilitated the use of torture.
“Amending the PTA to bring it in line with international standards was a key commitment of Sri Lanka in the run-up to its readmission to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) in 2017,” she added.
The Commissioner said that the law is not in line with the conventions that Sri Lanka has to implement under the GSP+. “We have raised the issue with the new authorities, and they confirmed their intent on revisiting the provisions of the PTA with a view to making the appropriate amendments,”
“So far, however, there has been no progress, and we have seen that on 9 March, the scope of the Act was broadened to allow for two years of detention without trial for those suspected of causing religious, racial or communal disharmony. The issue will remain at the heart of our engagement with Sri Lanka in the framework of the GSP+ monitoring,” she said.
“We will continue our open and critical engagement with Sri Lanka not only within the framework of the GSP+ monitoring, but in our regular bilateral dialogue,”