Amnesty International says protesters should not be detained under strict anti-terrorism laws

Wasantha Mudalige, chairman of the Inter-University Students’ Federation, Garwewa Siridhamma Tero, chairman of the Inter-University Bhikkhu Federation, and Hasanta Jawanta Gunatilake, a member of the University of Kelaniya Students’ Union, arrested on August 18 and 19. In response to reports that he was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Amnesty International South Asia Director Yamini Mishra said:

“Using draconian anti-terrorism laws to crack down on protesters is another downfall for the Sri Lankan government. This is a violation of Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations, particularly freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly. is.”

“The accusations of terrorism are disproportionate to the crimes protesters are alleged to have committed. Such actions by the authorities are excessive, disproportionate and violate international law. It allows them to be detained without charge for up to one year, which violates international law, and the defense minister must not sign an order to further detain them under the PTA.”

“In Sri Lanka, the PTA has a long history of abuse and this development shows precisely why local and international actors have called for the PTA to be abolished. It has been used time and time again as a means of silencing journalists and minorities.”

Sri Lanka’s worsening economic crisis has led to violations of people’s civil, political, economic and social rights. Over the past few months, the president, prime minister and cabinet of ministers have had to resign following widespread public outcry calling for their resignation.

The government responded to largely peaceful protests with excessive and unnecessary force and state of emergency laws, giving sweeping powers to the police and military to curb further demonstrations.

Amnesty International and others have called on the Sri Lankan government to end its crackdown on peaceful protests. Amnesty International has also documented the Sri Lankan government’s use of the strict PTA to target and harass minorities, activists, journalists and critical voices.

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