Presidential Commission says PTA should remain but be reformed

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry for Appraisal of the Findings of Previous Commissions and Committees on Human Rights and the Way Forward has said that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) should not be repealed but be reformed.

The Commission handed over its Interim Report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat last evening (20).

The President, in extraordinary gazettes issued on January 21 and February 12, 2021, appointed members to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate, inquire into and report or take necessary actions on findings of preceding Commissions or Committees appointed to investigate into human rights violations, serious violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other such offences.

The Commission is chaired by Supreme Court Judge A. H. M. D. Nawaz, and the other members are retired Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando, retired District Secretary Nimal Abeysiri and former Mayor of Jaffna Yogeswari Patkunarajah.

The Commission, which is not in agreement with calls to repeal the PTA, highlights in the interim report that the PTA should be reformed in line with the laws against the prevention of terrorism in other countries including in the UK.

The Commission, which has paid special attention to the Provisions 9, 11 and 13 of the PTA, has made three key recommendations in its interim report with regard to the implementation of the PTA in a more democratic manner.

The Commission highlighted the possibility to expedite the hearing of cases of those who are being detained for a minimum of three months or a longer period under the provision 9 of the PTA by filing indictments against them and to confine the detainees to their own home or the residential area under special security instead of detaining them in prisons in line with the provision 11 of the PTA.

The Commission, in its Interim Report, proposes the importance of establishing an Advisory Board consisting of not less than three persons representing all ethnic groups, to advise the President or the Minister in charge of Defence under the provision 13 of the PTA.

It is the policy of the Government to work with the United Nations and its agencies to ensure accountability and human resource development in order to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation, the Presidents Media Division said.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry for Appraisal of the Findings of Previous Commissions and Committees and the Way Forward has been mandated to handover its final report in the next six months.

Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Additional Secretary to the President T.T. Upulmalee, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage and the Director-General of Legal Affairs of the Presidential Secretariat, Hariguptha Rohanadheera were also present. (Colombo Gazette)

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