2 December, 2023


Suspend PTA Immediately – UN Experts Tells GOSL

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

The Sri Lankan delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) suffered a great setback when its promise to amend the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 as amended (PTA) was responded to by the 16 UN special experts calling on the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to suspend the PTA altogether and immediately. The experts said, after the suspension, the Government could suitably enact anti terrorism law which is in keeping with international law.

Thus, the usual trick employed by Sri Lankan delegations before the sessions of the UNHRC by making various promises and even exhibiting draft Bills, thereby trying to create the impression that some compliance with the request of the Council is being considered by the Government was not able to convince the international community of the sincerity of the GoSL. For many years, Sri Lankan delegations including this time’s delegation led by Foreign Minister Professor G.L. Peiris himself, had sophisticated the art of practicing various kinds of deceptions to create a false impression that the Government is willing to expand the freedom of the people and that they will take necessary steps for this purpose. When the Council sessions are over, and all the promises are forgotten, the next stage of discussing these things begins only when the next sessions of the UNHRC are to be held. This circus goes on and on and as far as the people are concerned, the situation of repression is ever increasing.

The purpose of the UN HR mechanisms is to assist Governments in order to improve the means by which their own people will enjoy a greater freedom. The various meetings such as UNHRC sessions and discussions with the various treaty bodies are all designed with the idea of mutual cooperation through which the ultimate beneficiaries will be the people of each country.

What the PTA involves is not just only the rights of the minorities but the rights of the entire nation that whatever measures that are taken for ensuring national security be made without striking the right to protection of the individuals and groups living in a society, which is the primary concern of promoting human rights. When the balance is shifted and the security laws are merely used not in order to protect the people’s freedom but against the people themselves, then the very possibility of the existence of a free nation comes to be challenged. In Sri Lanka, everybody has reached that stage quite sometime back.

The possibilities open for prolonged detentions through the PTA has not in any way strengthened the Sri Lankan criminal justice system to deal with horrendous violations of rights. That you can easily get away with murder is today a kind of common belief. That is in a backdrop where grave kinds of abuses have taken place such as large scale enforced disappearances, events like the Easter Sunday bomb blasts and so many other daily events where the arbitrary use of detention has become a matter of grave concern for the people. Fear and intimidation reigns in the civil society and thereby the public space for participation to improve their own life conditions have been stifled. Under these circumstances, a strong condemnation by 16 Special Mandate Holders of the UN is a quite welcomed gesture to point to the need for action rather than promises in terms of dealing with the freedom of the people.

The 1978 Constitution which has lasted for 43 years now and the PTA which has lasted for 40 were the two hands of the former President J.R. Jayewardene which has been keeping the Sri Lankan political and legal systems strangled. Now, both are being seriously challenged as the people have experienced enormous sufferings due to such repressive laws.

The statement by the 16 Special Mandate Holders should be an encouragement to the people of Sri Lanka themselves to utilize the situation to demand the end of the PTA and at the same time to also demand the end of the repression that is carried out through the 1978 Constitution. What the UN agencies can do is to merely assist the people themselves who themselves must decide as to what kind of nation they want to live in. Many declare publicly that Sri Lanka is a less attractive place for them to live than ever before. Under these circumstances, efforts by the people themselves including the Opposition political parties, the trade unions and all civil society organizations should be in order to improve their own rights and end the extremely repressive laws and practices that are developed in Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 13

    Suspension of PTA will not help to impact on Rajapaksas white vans. The only way to Sri Lanka is to suspend the executive powers immediately.

  • 14

    I think getting rid of the Rajapaksa menace should be the first step.
    Then bring in a selfless, honest, and patriotic leader.
    Appoint a small number of dedicated and professional ministers to support.

  • 15

    The international community is not fooled by the Rajapaksa tactics of denial, blame, and refusing to cooperate with human rights groups. They may fool their naive supporters with their usual claim of being the target of western nations, and being bullied by countries like the US and the UK, but we all know the guilty are afraid, and the Rajapaksa’s have acted defensive, combative, and uncooperative, strong signs of having too much to hide. If one looks at the accusations with an open mind, it will be obvious there is a lot of facts, and the truth, in there.

    • 3

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

      For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

    • 0

      “The international community is not fooled by the Rajapaksa tactics of denial, blame, and refusing to cooperate with human rights groups.”

      If Tamils managed to fool the international community by saying blatant lies, why Rajapakshes cannot fool the international community?

  • 7

    You mean Lankan Law Expert who said ” in Lanka we consider witnesses are impediment to any inquiries” . That may be the reason to get rid of them, so that there is no need to collect or preserve and cases are closed efficiently..

    • 6

      Basil , you are one of the few legal voices who tirelessly keeps us aware of the lawless state of our failed nation. We have parliament full of criminals
      PTA is used by successive governments to suppress dissent and Rajapaksas are now using for their own crimes . There is no answers for Easter killings yet , obviously there is a political hand behind it, international help is being seeked , real terrorists are now with in government and innocent political victims are behind bars. Thanks to Lankans One family one law no country .( fiefdom)

  • 2

    Good Morning.
    “Many declare publicly that Sri Lanka is a less attractive place for them to live than ever before.”
    Very soon the inhabitants (except R Bros Inc., and their followers, backers, relatives and extended family}, will go overseas on some pretext or the other of extremism and terror and domicile in the west or east as the case may be.
    Sri Lankan will become the personal domain {“Fiefdom”} of the R Bros. Inc., of ‘Medamulana Walauwe’ from Dondra Head to Point Pedro!!
    Is it not a good idea??? When that happens there would be eternal peace and Bliss in this land!!
    Whether you agree or not that seems to be the target!!!
    As long as wily Gamini Luxman is around, that is the circus that Sri Lankan undergoes!!!
    Truth and facts are anathema to this so called emancipated, erudite academic turned politician!!!!
    Basic defect is discerning the good, Bad and the evil!!!

  • 1

    Ts and Ms who resorted to terrorism and massacred hundreds of thousands innocent unarmed civilians want PTA to be repealed. Sinhala Buddhists who were the main victims of terrorism for three decades want to keep PTA. Which side UN should take; the side of the victims of terrorism or the side of the terrorists?

  • 8

    Prof . G. L. Peiris behaves like an absent -minded ,during the last 30 years of his political carrier, being worked in all parties starting with, Ranil, Chandrica, Mahinda and Gota, had done nothing on PTA or generally regarding minority issues ; and just danced to the tune of his heads of Government. Finally, this year at his tender age had been criticized by the Secretary General of U. N.Human Rights for non-compliance by Sri lanka as promised by all successive participants . When some body makes false promises every time at an international forum who is to be blamed ? Whether the leader or the Participants or both .

  • 7

    The key players who call the shots in the Government of Sri Lanka are thumbing their noses at the international community using their left hands while carrying begging bowls in their right hands. Beggars must be humble and conciliatory, not arrogant and intransigent. These guys will get the stuffing beaten out of them soon!

  • 0

    I wish to thank BF for this important article about the need to suspend the PTA act immediately. It is now being used readily to violate the human rights of ruled ethnic groups as well as the rulers’ political enemies.
    BF has clearly described how the attempts at deception didn’t work at the UNHRC this time.
    The learned Professor Peiris who is now a full blown crony of the Rajapaksas was also trying to invoke the exclusive sovereignty principle. The UNHRC probably takes the position that this principle does not apply when rulers blatantly violate human rights of the people including the human rights of the ruled ethnic groups.

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