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Sri Lanka refuses to repeal draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris said that the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) will not be rescinded in a meeting with the Sri Lankan Collective for Consensus (SLCC), a civil society organisation. 

Peiris heads the Ministerial Subcommittee on amending the PTA and said that the law will not be repealed due to “security issues.” 

The act was introduced in 1978 by then-President J.R. Jayawardena and has been disproportionately used to target Tamils in the island. 

The PTA has been widely derided as draconian including by the European Union (EU) which called for sanctions on Sri Lanka earlier this year if it failed to repeal its “abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The EU also placed its preferential system of trade with Sri Lanka known as GSP+ (General System of Preferences) under review on account of its deteriorating human rights situation. 

These concerns on the act were echoed by Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement in which she called for an "immediate moratorium on the use of the Act, and that a clear timeline be set for its comprehensive review or repeal."

Peiris suggested amendments to the act in his discussions with the SLCC including its restricted use in the future. However Tamil victim communities and political representatives have stressed the need to repeal the bill in its entirety.

“You cannot amend the PTA, you have to repeal the PTA. The whole basis, the foundation of the law is flawed,” Sumanthiran, a Tamil MP, said in parliament earlier this year. 

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