Seven UN Special Rapporteurs called for a moratorium on the use of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act in a report dated 9 December 2021. They include the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; the Special Rapporteur on minority issues; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Special Rapporteurs called for a moratorium on the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and had reiterated the importance of meaningful reform of the PTA. The continued risk to the rights and liberties of persons who may be detained arbitrarily, especially religious and ethnic minorities, and may curtail political dissent with no effective due process guarantees remains at the core of their concern. Lack of judicial oversight and effective due process standards could facilitate institutional contexts where misuse can occur.
The report had requested the Government to commence a thorough examination of the PTA with a view to amend all relevant provisions and ensure that human rights are respected and protected under the auspices of countering terrorism. Further, we recommend an immediate moratorium on its use until such time as the necessary amendments can be made.