Today the Government of Sri Lanka gazetted Amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Human Rights Organisations have been campaigning for the repeal of draconian PTA for decades. UNHRC and UN experts have proposed to repeal the current PTA and enact a new act in accordance with international human rights standards.
For instance Dr. Gehan Gunatilieke twitters:
In fact, the proposed amendments specifically retain the authority of the High Court to remand the accused until the conclusion of the trial.
Bottom line: Hejaaz's situation would have been no different under an amended PTA.@Justice4Hejaaz
— Gehan Gunatilleke (@GehanDG) January 29, 2022
The proposed changes does not fulfil the demands of the human rights community, a rights defender told Sri Lanka Brief.
Summary of legal effect and the complete gazette follows:
STATEMENT OF LEGAL EFFECT
Clause 2 : This clause amends section 9 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary
Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 (hereinafter referred to as the “principal enactment”) in
order to reduce the aggregate period of detention of a person under a detention order from
eighteen months to twelve months.
Clause 3 : This clause inserts new sections 9A and 9B in the principal enactment to
enable the Magistrate to visit the place of detention to ensure that the suspect is protected
to the extent provided for in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act, No. 22 of 1994.
Clause 4 : This clause amends section 10 of the principal enactment and the legal effect
of the section as amended is to enable a detainee to apply for a remedy guaranteed under
Article 126 or 140 of the Constitution.
Clause 5 : This clause inserts new section 10A in the principal enactment to enable an
Attorney-at-Law to have access to a person in remand or in detention, and also to enable
the person so remanded or detained to communicate with his relatives.
Clause 6 : This clause amends section 11 of the principal enactment and the legal effect
of the section as amended is to enable the suspect to be produced before a judicial medical
officer to ensure that such person has not been subjected to torture before serving an Order under section 11 of that enactment.
Clause 7 : This clause repeals section 14 of the principal enactment.
Clause 8 : This clause amends section 15 of the principal enactment in order to provide
for holding trials on a day-to-day basis to ensure the expeditious disposal of cases.
Clause 9 : This clause amends section 15A of the principal enactment and is consequential
to the amendment made by clause 11.
Clause 10 : This clause inserts new section 15B in the principal enactment to make
provision for granting of bail to persons in remand or in detention.
Clause 11 : This clause amends section 19 of the principal enactment and is consequential
to the amendment made by Clause 7.
Clause 12 : This clause amends section 26 of the principal enactment and the legal
effect of the section as amended is to make provision to question an Order made or
direction given under the principal enactment despite the protection afforded to officers
for any act or thing done or purported to be done in good faith.
Clause 13 : This clause amends section 31 of the principal enactment in order to
remove the definitions of “newspaper” and “printing press” and to include a new definition
for the term “torture”.
The Gazette: PTA reform gazatte 270122 171-2022_E