PTA amendments: Initial draft to Cabinet soon

  • Process to be completed by March 2022

By Yoshitha Perera  

The initial draft of the updated Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA) will be presented to the Cabinet soon, and it is likely to be approved by March next year, The Sunday Morning learnt. 

Justice Ministry Secretary M.M.P.K. Mayadunne told The Sunday Morning that the proposed amendments submitted to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be sent to the Cabinet for approval, and then to the Attorney General’s (AG) Department.

“It will be handed to the AG when the Cabinet approves the revisions, and then it will be published as a gazette. At this point, the public can make any arguments in connection to the proposed amendments to the Supreme Court. We’re aiming to finish this procedure by the end of March 2022,” he stated.

Local and international legal experts and human rights advocacy groups have slammed the PTA, which was implemented as a temporary law in 1979, and made permanent in 1982. Efforts to repeal the PTA have generally gone unheeded. Some people detained under the PTA are still being jailed without charge, 11 years after the conflict in Sri Lanka ended. 

The PTA remains in the local and international spotlight, with the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and the European Union (EU) Parliament calling for the legislation to be repealed or brought in line with international best practices.

Sri Lanka has given an undertaking to the EU to review the PTA following the regional bloc threatening to withdraw the much-valued Generalised Scheme of Preferences-Plus (GSP+) trade concessions that Sri Lankan exports enjoy. 

President Rajapaksa created a special 10-member committee to recommend whether the PTA should be amended or whether a new counterterrorism law should be drafted, and the group has delivered an initial draft of the revised PTA to the President.

Ministry of Justice Secretary Mayadunne, Ministry of Public Security Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Jagath Alwis, Chief of National Intelligence Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Ruwan Kulatunga, Legal Draftsperson Dilrukshi Samaraweera, Ministry of Justice Additional Secretary Piyumanthi Peiris, Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle, Foreign Affairs Ministry Deputy Law Advisor Thilani Silva, and President’s Senior Assistant Secretary Jeewanthi Senanayake served on the special committee that was appointed.