Issuing detention orders an abuse of PTA by Execurive – CPA

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The detention orders issued by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, for the apparent involvement in the ‘Aragalaya’ appears to be yet another effort by the United National Party – Sri Lanka Podujana Party Government to target protesters and create a chilling effect in order to silence dissent, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) stated.

CPA raised concerns on the three detention orders issued by Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Defence under, section 9 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA).

While noting that these orders have permitted the detention of the Convener of Inter University Students’ Federation Wasantha Mudalige , Hashantha Jeewantha Gunathilake and Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera for a period of 90 days, CPA observed that this is yet another example of the abuse of the PTA by the Executive.

CPA noted that in 1979, when the PTA was originally passed by Parliament, it was referred to the Supreme Court as an ‘Urgent Bill’ and with an undertaking by the then government, that it would be passed in Parliament by a two-third majority.

“As a consequence, the Supreme Court only looked into whether any provision of the PTA violated the limited entrenched provisions of the Constitution. As such PTA became law, despite, inconsistency  with the Constitutional provisions,” they added. 

CPA further noted that Sri Lanka has ample laws that can be used to investigate any individual who is suspected of committing an offence, adding that as such the use of PTA to target protesters and equate their action to terrorist activities is extremely dangerous, alarming and wholly disproportionate.

“This is exacerbated in the context where Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented economic crisis and it is imperative that the government take all steps to protect and promote the rights of all its citizens,” the CPA said while calling on the President to immediately rescind the detention orders and to repeal the PTA in adherence to Sri Lanka’s international obligations.

CPA also urged the authorities to desist from harassing, intimidating and targeting individuals for exercising their Fundamental Rights adding that this is a critical step in instilling confidence among citizens and the international community if the new government is genuinely committed in upholding the rule of law and democratic practices and processes.