Colombo urged to repeal PTA

[TamilNet, Saturday, 17 January 2004, 18:02 GMT]
A meeting to urge the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and to release detainees arrested under the PTA and held in prison for several years without a court hearing was organized by the Center of Human Rights and Development (CHRD) held at the Conference hall of Batticaloa Public Library Saturday, civil sources said.

PTA meeting in Batticaloa
Rev.Fr.Kingsley Swampillai lighting the ceremonial lamp
Senior attorney K.Thangavadivel presided the discussions and Secretary of CHRD, Mr.N.Kandasamy, delivered the welcome speech. Bishop of Trincomalee-Batticaloa Diocese Rt Rev Fr Dr.Kingsely Swampillai, Siva Sri Maheswara Kurukkal and Moulavi S.M.Aliyar spoke wishing the meeting success.

"Tamil people were denied fundamental rights of freedom for 25 years under the PTA. Although the PTA has been suspended under the MoU signed between the LTTE and the GoSL, the PTA provisions are still in the Statute book. If we fail to abolish the PTA, when the MoU expires, Sri Lanka's security forces can resume committing atrocities against Tamil civilians under the protection of the PTA," said parliamentarian and President of All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) A.Vinayagamoorthy.

PTA meeting in Batticaloa
A.Vinayagamoorthy, ACTC MP, speaking at the event
"The PTA, close to celebrating its silver jubilee, was submitted to the Sri Lanka Parliament, debated on and enacted into law the same day on the 19 July 1979. K.W.Devanayagam the then Kalkuda district MP and the Minister of Justice submitted the PTA. No tamil parliamentarian opposed the legislation. The then President J.R.Jayawardana gave assurances that the law will be active only for one year and will be implemented only in the NorthEast.

"Confession of a person arrested is sufficient to indict that person under the provisions of PTA. Hence, torture becomes the inevitable means for the security forces to obtain confessions and convict Tamils. Since the law allows indfinite detention, arrested Tamils are often detained until physical evidence of torture disappears.

"Although there are several Human Rights organizations and NGOs in Sri Lanka few have raised their voices against the PTA. CHRD has been consistently taking efforts to lobby for the abolition of the PTA. Batticaloa residents were severely affected by the PTA. Hence it is appropriate that we have this discussions in Batticaloa today," added Mr.Vinayagamoorthy.

PTA meeting in Batticaloa

Attorneys P.Premnath and K.D.C.Kumarage also spoke. Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham, TELO Secretary Prasanna Indrakumar, Former MP Pon.Selvarajah, President of CHRD Rajan Sathiyamoorthy, several lawyers, representatives of civil organizations and journalists particiapated in the discussion.

The participants decided to send a Memorandum with about 200,000 signatures to the Government of Sri Lanka urging the GoSL to repeal the PTA, sources said.

PTA meeting in Batticaloa
(L-R) TELO Secretary Prasanna Inthrakumar, TULF MP Joseph Pararajasingham, Ms.Sugunam Pararajasingham

PTA meeting in Batticaloa

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