Police directed not to misuse PTA!!

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has directed the Police not to use the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as a shortcut but only if there are clear links to terrorism.

Foreign Minister, Professor G.L Peiris said that the President had told the Police not to use the PTA as a shortcut to dispense with investigations under the criminal procedures code.

The Foreign Minister said this showed that the whole attitude in conjunction with the proposed PTA amendments will make a “world of difference”.

“The Government has given clear instructions that the irresponsible use of the PTA must stop. Let’s give a chance and see if it happens or not,” the Foreign Minister said.

Peiris had expressed these views at a meeting with representatives of local civil society and Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) held at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. Civil society and NGO representatives expressed strong reservations on the use of the PTA by the Police. The Foreign Minister strongly defended the proposed amendments to the PTA.

He rejected the stand taken by some that the amendments to the PTA are nothing new. Peiris said that the PTA prevented attempts to secure the release of Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah despite the Attorney General not objecting to bail.

He said lawyers had to fight hard to eventually secure bail for Hizbullah at the Court of Appeal.

Peiris said that rejecting the amendments would mean the existing laws will remain further. As a result, the Foreign Minister said that the PTA amendments are an urgent requirement. He also said that the amendments do not mean it is the end of the road and that new laws will be drafted to replace the PTA. However, the Foreign Minister said drafting new laws will take time. The Foreign Minister also said that the report by the Commission of Inquiry (COI), headed by Supreme Court Judge A.H.M. Nawaz to assess the findings and recommendations of preceding Cois and Committees on human rights violations, will submit its report to the President over the next few days. He said the COI has sought a meeting with the President to submit their report.(EASWARAN RUTNAM)

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