With the end of the civil-war in 2009, it was expected that the government which brought the unwarranted war to a much desired finish, would also repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) act, considered draconian by all Sri Lankans. Today, instead the civil society and independent media has seen its space to operate shrink rapidly in the country.
Earlier, PTA of 1978 was enacted as a temporary law in 1979 at a time there were several uprisings in the country. In 1982, this law was made permanent as uprisings intensified. During three decades of civil-war and during the negative peace decade.
Thereafter, all past governments in power had used PTA successfully to its advantage by arresting citizens to curb anti-government activities. The law provided police with broad powers to search, arrest, and detain citizens suspected of such activities.
Bitter reality is the PTA contains deeply flawed provisions including enabling warrantless arrests and 18-month detentions with limited court oversight. Truth is with introduction of PTA, the human rights situation has been steadily deteriorated in the country.
In 2021 with over a decade elapsed and nothing secured under previous administrations the act was strongly criticized by international community and human rights actors, including UN Special Rapporteurs.
In this scenario, all Sri Lankans welcome the present government’s announcement that it will replace PTA, the current anti-terrorism law to replace a new one in line with international standards. Sooner it is done the better, to bring the rulers closer to the ruled to take the country forward to prosperity!