The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has called upon newly-elected Members of Parliament to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), dubbed by human rights activists as draconian, in two months.
In a statement, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director, CaFFE, termed the PTA more dangerous than emergency laws and said the United National Front for Good Governance, which has formed the new government, consisted of parties that were victims of the law in the past. Those who accepted good governance as a principle must agree to a repeal of the PTA, which, according to the CaFFE, led to attacks on personal freedom including the freedom of expression and that of association.
Arrest of activists
Referring to the arrest of certain activists under the law during the previous Rajapaksa regime, Mr. Tennakoon recalled that when Colombo’s former Deputy Mayor Azath Salley was arrested under the law in May 2013, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, then as Leader of Opposition, had raised the question whether the PTA would be used further to suppress the rights of political adversaries.
The CaFFE functionary pointed out that the law, enacted in 1979, did not prevent the 1983 July riots or put a quick end to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or stop the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) from taking up arms in the late 1980s.
On evidence against KP
Adverting to news reports on the submission of Sri Lanka’s Attorney General before the Court of Appeal that no evidence had been found against Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, who headed the arms procurement wing and ‘international secretariat’ of the LTTE, for involvement in criminal activities, Mr. Tennakoon said that a government, which had promised to bring about good governance and democratisation, should demonstrate its commitment by getting the PTA repealed.