Colombo, January 28
Sri Lanka will amend a controversial anti-terror law that gives police sweeping powers to arrest suspects without trial to fully align it with international standards, amid mounting pressure from the EU and the UN Human Rights Council.
The government issued a gazette notification on Thursday, saying the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) would be amended. Enacted in 1979, the PTA allows authorities to make warrantless arrests and searches if a person is suspected of involvement in a “terrorist activity”. The move comes ahead of the March session of the UNHRC in Geneva, where Sri Lanka’s rights and progress accountability has come under review. The Bill proposes a number of amendments and ensures the suspects are allowed to approach the Supreme Court on grounds of violation of their fundamental rights and seek relief, officials said. It proposes to allow for legal access to the person in custody and also permits relatives to communicate with the detainee. —