Amnesty International has raised concerns over the Sri Lankan Government’s continued use of its draconian anti-terror law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), despite repeated assurances to repeal the legislation, while ignoring calls to issue a serious moratorium against its use.
Amnesty noted that 4 persons, Mohamed Asfer Mohamed Anas, Mohamed Jusair Abdul Hameed Jabir, Mohamed Azeez Abu Bakr Siddique, and Rawutar Naina Asnar Marrikar were arrested by the Sri Lankan Police on 18 May 2023 for charges under the Penal Code and the PTA in connection with the 21 April 2019 bombings.
“As we have raised our concerns before, the PTA facilitates arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention without trial. The law has been used time and time again to target minorities, without any fair or due process safeguards, including against extracting confessions under torture and duress,” Amnesty International said.
According to information provided by the Police to the Fort Magistrate, the authorities intend to record statements from at least 4 more persons who we fear may also be subjected to arrests under the PTA.
“These are worrying developments especially in a context where the Government is hoping to bring in a new Anti-Terrorism Act which, amongst other issues, seeks to further expand the definition of what constitutes an act of terror,” Amnesty International said.
Amnesty said that those arrested must be immediately released or if credible evidence persists, they must promptly be charged with an internationally recognisable crime using fair trial standards.
The human rights group also urged the Sri Lankan Government to ensure investigations into the 21 April 2019 bombings are conducted promptly and impartially in line with international human rights standards.