The tyrannical Sri Lankan Prevention of Terrorism Act (“PTA”) has been in effect for over forty years. Dating back to the decades-long civil war, the PTA has terrorized Sri Lankan citizens. The PTA authorizes the Sri Lankan government to arbitrarily detain citizens without warrants for up to eighteen months; use torture to extract confessions; and target protesters, minority groups, and political opponents. The PTA creates a breeding ground for numerous human rights violations with no accountability for the officials who commit human rights abuses. The use of the Act has intensified since 2019 with the Easter Sunday Bombings and the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The PTA is currently being used to detain protesters, political opponents, ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights advocates. Framing the PTA through the lens of a decades-long violent civil war, the continued fear of terrorism, and rampant discrimination is essential to understanding how and why this law is still used. This article will analyze the origins of the Sri Lankan Civil War; how terrorism continues to affect the Sri Lankan government and public; recent abuses under the law; amendments to the PTA; the current economic and political strife; international pressures for reform; the PTA's violations of international law; and the different solutions that the international community can take to help protect the Sri Lankan people's rights.
"Prevention or Creation of Terrorism? The Sri Lankan Prevention of Terrorism Act,"
Immigration and Human Rights Law Review: Vol. 4:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.uc.edu/ihrlr/vol4/iss1/4