Sri Lanka’s leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan on Tuesday slammed the government over continuing detention of people booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) even after it committed itself at the UN Human Rights Council last year to review and repeal the law.
Speaking on a motion on the subject of missing persons and those in custody, Mr. Sampanathan, who also heads the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), recalled how the previous governments had granted amnesty to those who were arrested during the insurgency of the early 1970s and the late 1980s. He asked the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government why the Tamil prisoners should be treated differently.
‘Take a political decision’
Mr. Sampanthan argued that those who were detained “are not charged with crimes against society but charged with crimes which have political dimensions”.
Their continued detention was “not compatible” with transitional justice. He contended that a political decision had to be taken with regard to the prisoners, a matter which could not be viewed merely in legal sense.
The TNA leader also urged the government not to let itself dictated by “slogans” from certain “parochial” sections.
‘Absurd and stupid’
He described as “absurd and stupid” the reported observation of a political leader regarding the re-emergence of [Tamil] Eelam if the government released the prisoners, withdrew military from the Northern Province and allowed the re-merger of the North and East with powers on land and police.
“After the end of the armed conflict, can you cite a single instance to show that there had been revival of violence?” (The Hindu)