Tamil Diplomat

CaFFE and CHR urge all NGOs and political actors to join hands with them to campaign against PTA

The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and Center For Human Rights Sri Lanka (CHR) have called upon   all the Non-Governmental Organizations and political actors to campaign against PTA, demanding the abolition of the draconian law.

In a statement, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director, CaFFE, expressed disappointment over the lack of interest shown by both local and international NGOs with regard to the abolition of PTA in Sri Lanka.

 The full statement issued by Tennakoon is as follows: UN Special Representative, Colombo, OHCHR Colombo Representative, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Article 19, CPJ, IFJ and all local CSOs/NGOs and representatives of Diplomatic Community.

In the past we were united by a common goal of repealing the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). We have spent years, spending countless workhours and financial resources educating the people about the PTA, campaigning against it and lobbying policy makers because of the dangers posed by the PTA to our personal freedoms.

The defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa, twice in the space of eight months, and the presence of a large number of MPs, which now constitutes an overwhelming majority in Parliament, has opened a golden opportunity to get rid of the PTA. As I have mentioned earlier the UNFGG comprises of a number of parties that were the victims, either party leaders or members, of the PTA, for example members of the Up Country Peoples Front, Mano Ganesan, northern and eastern Muslim parties. Moreover those who accept good governance as a principal must agree to a repeal of the PTA. 16 MPs of the TNA will vote against the PTA and JVP will also assist a move to repeal the act. So given such favourable circumstances, CaFFE believes that removal of the PTA should be in the agenda of the Parliament in the coming two months.

However we are saddened to see that our sentiments were not echoed by other human rights organizations and we feel as if both local and international NGOs have dropped the issue without any justifiable reason. Due to this silence we must lose this window of opportunity to rid the country of this anti-democratic legislation.

This has even been recommended against by the LLRC: Sections 5.44 (page 165) and 9.57 (page 341) of the Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Report (LLRC) states that the “Commission has observed instances of persons being detained in custody for a long period of time under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). In this regard, the Commission recommends that an Independent Advisory Committee be appointed to monitor and examine detention and arrest of persons taken into custody under any regulations made under…the PTA”.

Thus we request you to show solidarity with our campaign, or restart your campaign, so that we will be able to repeal the PTA and realize a long standing dream that we shared for many years.