Human Rights Commission welcomes President’s directives for arrests under PTA
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) today welcomed the directives issued by President Maithripala Sirisena on the arrest and detention of persons under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and a state of emergency when in force.
“The Directives would facilitate the Commission exercise its powers, functions and duties in this regard and would without doubt reinforce the protection afforded to persons subject to arrest and detention under extraordinary laws,” its Chairperson Dr Deepika Udagama said in a statement.
The Commission also welcomed the government’s decision to repeal the PTA and emphasized the need to ensure that the national security legislation, which is being proposed to replace the PTA, adheres to international human rights standards.
Sirisena has issued a series of new directives to be followed by the police and security forces when arresting and detaining persons suspected of terrorism under the much criticized PTA.
The President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Defense has instructed the police and security forces of the new directives issued by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on May 18, 2016.
The move comes ahead of United Nation Human Rights Commissioner Zaid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s brief on Sri Lanka to the ongoing 32nd session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on June 27.
According to the new directives issued by the Lankan President, the arresting officers should not physically harass, torture or humiliate suspects in a disrespectful manner, only women shall search female detainees and the attorneys representing the suspects should be permitted to meet their clients.
Further the officer arresting the person shall identify himself by name and rank to those arrested or to the family or friend and inform of the reason for the arrest.
In case the suspects need medical care, prompt action should be taken to provide such care and adequate basic amenities.
Detention should be in keeping with the established fundamental rights enshrined in Article 13 (5) of the Constitution that an accused is presumed innocent until he or she is proved guilty.