UK High Commissioner discusses PTA, Police reforms with Minister Weerasekara

Reforms to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 as amended (PTA), as well as reformations to Sri Lanka’s policing system – including increasing representation and diversity – were discussed between the UK High Commissioner Sarah Hulton and Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd.) Sarath Weerasekara.

During the meeting, views were also exchanged on strengthening the longstanding ties between the UK and Sri Lanka in areas of mutual interest, including the enhancement of bilateral co-operation and the fortification of amicable relations between the two states.

Meanwhile, a new trilateral security partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US was announced on 15 September 2021 by the leaders of the three countries, to “meet the challenges of the 21st Century” in the Indo-Pacific.

The underlying reason for this partnership is to contain China, though the Joint Leaders’ Statement on AUKUS does not refer to China as a threat.

Sri Lanka, the proponent of the Indian Ocean Peace Zone (IOPZ) in the 1970s, has not officially issued any statement on the AUKUS so far. However, on several occasions in the recent past, Sri Lankan leadership has talked about the relevance of the IOPZ in the context of the growing militarisation in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

There have been concerns that militarisation in the South China Sea may anytime shift in the Indian Ocean. According to the Peace and Solidarity Organisation Sri Lanka (PASOS), the Sri Lankan branch of the World Peace Council, Australia is trying to instigate an arms race by signing the nuclear-powered submarine deal under the AUKUS.

Therefore, the PASOS has called for opposition to this submarine deal. However, amidst the ongoing economic crisis, when Sri Lanka is looking for solutions to overcome the crisis, it is unlikely that the Sri Lankan Government would outwardly oppose the submarine deal of the AUKUS.