[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized [press release] the government of Sri Lanka on Monday for not repealing its “Draconian” counterterrorism law.
HRW accused the government of using the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) [text] to arbitrarily detain and torture suspects.
Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said, “[t]he Sri Lankan government has been all talk and no action on repealing the reviled PTA. Replacing this draconian counterterrorism law with one that meets international standards should be an urgent priority if the government is serious about protecting human rights.”
According to a recent HRW report [text] the PTA is a “significant contributing factor in the presence of torture in Sri Lanka.” The report tracked 17 prisoners, which only makes up a small number of the overall prisoners arrested under the PTA. Their accounts described sexual assault, forced confessions, and being burned with cigarettes.
At least 11 people were arrested since 2016 under the PTA.
Sri Lanka’s human rights record has been a cause of international concern in recent years. In November Sri Lanka said [JURIST report] it would investigate the torture of Tamils. In 2017 a Sri Lankan panel recommended [JURIST report] that the nation temporarily adopt a hybrid court with both local and international judges working in tandem to adjudicate war crime allegations stemming from the nation’s civil war. In 2016 a UN rights expert said that Sri Lanka was still torturing suspects [JURIST report] seven years after the conclusion of the civil war.