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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Call to Sri Lanka to revise anti-terrorism bill

19 January 2024


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani



We are seriously concerned by the revised Anti-Terrorism Bill currently being considered in the Sri Lankan Parliament to replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. Repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be a turning point for meaningful reform of Sri Lanka’s approach to its internal security, but this proposed law instead risks perpetuating patterns of violations from the past.

The proposed law is substantially identical to previous drafts that were withdrawn after widespread criticism. It defines acts of “terrorism” overly broadly, restricts the scope of judicial guarantees, especially with respect to challenging the lawfulness of detention orders, and curtails the ability of the Human Rights Commission to visit places of detention, among other problematic provisions.

If passed in its current form, the Bill would grant excessive powers to the executive to restrict rights, with limited or no safeguards against abuse of such powers. It would weaken the legal grounds needed for security forces to arrest individuals without warrants. It would also still permit lengthy pre-trial detention.

We urge the authorities to meaningfully engage with civil society and other stakeholders to substantively revise the Bill and bring it fully into line with Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected]
Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected]
Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

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