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Sri Lanka HRC recommends to repeal PTA & to amend the 20 A

The Briefing of the Diplomats on 08th, 09th, & 10th of February 2022 on the Road Map of the HRCSL for 2022 held at the Human Rights Commission Headquarters.

 (1)   The establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism. (NPM)

According to Sri Lanka’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture & other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (OPCAT), the government of Sri Lanka designated the HRCSL as the National Preventive Mechanism.

Hence HRCSL will implement the NPM by establishing a separate unit within the HRCSL on 15th February 2022 with the existing resources. The primary purpose is to develop a system of regular visits to prevent torture and all other degrading treatments. i.e. detention centres, prisons etc. which includes all those in involuntary incarceration.

(2)   The repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. (PTA)

Notwithstanding the amendments already suggested by the government, the HRCSL advocates the complete abolition of the PTA.

The Commission believes that the offence of terrorism should be included in the Penal Code with a new definition for terrorism. It is explicitly for those who threaten or use violence unlawfully to target the civilian population by spreading fear thereof to further a political-ideological or religious cause. The Commission advocates that terrorism should be investigated under the General Law of the country with necessary amendments. The Commission also supports that it is not required to exclude the application of the Evidence Ordinance for the offence of terrorism. The ir,definite period of detention violates the Constitution. “Deprivation of liberty of a person pending investigation or trial shall not constitute punishment” (Art 13 (4)

Amendments to the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, Judicature Act and the Bail Act require modifications for this purpose.

The HRCSL recommends these amendments under section 10 (d) of the HRCSL, Act to be placed before a Parliamentary Select Committee

The HRCSL advocates amendments to the Human Rights Commission Act No: 21 of 1996 to address the Commission’s composition, mandate, and independence.

Human Rights Commission, by its powers granted under section 10(d) of the Human Rights Commission Act 21 of 1996, would like to bring to His Excellency’s attention the need to ensure that the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lank is amended to guarantee greater independence and transparency in the appointment of Commissioners to the Human Rights Commission.

With the establishment of the Parliamentary Council under the 20th amendment to the Constitution, there appears to be a lack of transparency as to the manner in which such appointments are made. To safeguard the independence of the Commission, a Constitutional amendment is necessitated.

In the alternative, recognizing the difficulty of amending the Constitution, the Commission recommends the following;

  • For the formulation of Regulations stipulating the criteria that should be adopted regarding appointments made in section 3 of the Human Rights Commissions Act 19 of
  • To publish the said criteria through a gazette

The above will ensure that such appointments comply  with the principles relating to  the status of National Institutions (Paris Principles) adopted by General Assembly Resolutions No.48/ 134 of 20th December 193.

The Commission further believes that the definition of ‘human rights” should be extended to cover all Covenants absorbed into law.

The HRCSL shall have these amendments placed before a Parliamentary Select Committee under section 10 (d) of the HRC Act.

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