COLOMBO, SRI LANKA The United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the United States have expressed concerns over the recent use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to arrest individuals in Sri Lanka.
The concerns were raised following the arrest of 10 individuals in Batticaloa this week under the PTA. The individuals were reportedly detained for attending or organizing an event commemorating Tamils who lost their lives during the Sri Lankan civil war.
In a tweet, the UN expressed alarm over the use of the PTA in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, noting that it contradicts the government’s promise to suspend the application of the law, which violates human rights obligations and should be repealed.
The EU echoed these concerns, emphasizing that the government must cease using the PTA following its commitments. “We urge the authorities to align the legislation with international standards and human rights conventions, and in the meantime, to stop using the PTA, as per their commitments,” the EU stated in a tweet.
The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung, also expressed concern over the continued use of the PTA, particularly in the context of arresting peaceful protesters and subjecting detainees to inhumane treatment. “It is vital to ensure freedom of expression and humane treatment of those in custody,” she asserted.
Ambassador Chung further emphasized the importance of protecting fundamental freedoms, especially as the government seeks to replace the PTA in line with its international commitments and implement key reforms.
Uphold human rights
The United Kingdom and Canada have also raised similar concerns regarding the use of the PTA.
These concerns highlight the need for Sri Lanka to uphold human rights and refrain from using the PTA to suppress dissent and restrict fundamental freedoms. The government should prioritize repealing the PTA and replacing it with legislation that aligns with international standards and respects human rights.