(New York) – The Sri Lankan government should abide by its commitments to replace the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with legislation that respects its international human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch said today. The cabinet of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced on January 4, 2020 that it would withdraw a proposed replacement law, reneging on pledges to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the European Union.
Rajapaksa, who took office on November 18, 2019, has also taken other steps that threaten human rights protections in Sri Lanka. He appointed army commanders implicated by the UN in attacks on civilians and other grave abuses during the civil war to defense secretary and other senior positions. He placed the police and other civilian agencies under the Defense Ministry. In addition, he appointed a military officer as the head of the civilian intelligence agency without requiring him to resign from the armed forces, and repeatedly said he would place the intelligence agencies at the heart of his administration.