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Sri Lanka: Repeal Abusive Counterterrorism Law - HRW

Sri Lanka should replace the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with legislation that respects international human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The call comes after the Sri Lankan president announced last week that his government would scrap plans to replace the law.

The previous government’s promise to repeal the PTA playing a significant part in the granting of the European Union trade concession GSP plus in 2015, however the reforms were never implemented.

“The EU, which offers Sri Lanka preferential trading terms in return for human rights guarantees, should demand the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director.

“For decades, Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act provided a legal fig leaf for grotesque human rights abuses and the suppression of peaceful dissent,” Ganguly said. “The new Rajapaksa government’s embrace of this abusive law is just one of many signs that the rights of Sri Lankans are at grave risk.”

The PTA has been disproportionately used against Tamils since its introduction and dozens of political prisoners arrested under the regulations remain in detention today.