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ICJ calls on Sri Lanka to repeal and replace PTA following detention of prominent lawyer

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called on Sri Lanka’s authorities to repeal and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), following the arbitrary arrest and detention of prominent lawyer.

In their statement, the ICJ have urged Sri Lanka to “respect human rights in the conduct of their investigation of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, including ensuring that investigations into the alleged involvement of Sri Lankan lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, are conducted in accordance with due process and fair trial guarantees under international law.”

Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested on April 14 2020 under Sri Lanka’s much criticised PTA, alongside six others, over the alleged involvement in the Easter Sunday attacks a year ago.

“No one questions the government’s need and obligation to investigate the horrendous Easter Sunday attacks, but these investigations must be conducted in a way that is consistent with international law and the Sri Lankan Constitution,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ Asia-Pacific Director.

“Not serving Hizbullah a remand order as required by law, and denying him full and confidential access to legal counsel is unacceptable and in violation of international standards on the right to liberty,” he added.

The PTA has been linked to cases of enforced disappearances, sexual violence and torture. Several Sri Lankan regimes have been criticised for the failure to repeal the PTA, despite widespread criticism from human rights defenders and international NGOs.

“The ICJ reiterated its call for the repeal and replacement of this vague and overbroad anti-terror law in line with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations,” the statement said.

Read the full statement here

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