The CHR says in a statement that believes that the government has made significant progress regarding assisting those who were being held under the PTA. Unfortunately, the government does not seem to be capable of communicating this to the international community.
Vocal criticism has been raised again on those held under the PTA at the UNHRC sessions and in a number of forums held parallel to the sessions. The CHR also believes that sustainable solution must be given to those being held in remand custody for an extended period and we have repeatedly urged the AG, IGP and the Ministry of Justice to find a humane solution to the matter.
Currently there are no detainees held under article 72 of PTA or in Executive Custody. This is a commendable development. However there are 89 persons held in remand custody for terrorism related offences, their cases are being taken up in High Courts. Cases against 75 others (29 arrested by the TID and46 by police) are being taken up in various magistrates courts. Out of the 89, whose cases are heard in High Courts, 74 are Tamils, nine are Sinhalese and six are Muslims.
There have been no reports of detention by army or police, since 2016 October, without following proper procedure.
However issuing a country report on Sri Lanka, the US State Department states that ‘here were reports of at least 167 political prisoners; the government did not acknowledge any prisoners as political prisoners,’) This is a highly misleading claim because those who are not held under Executive Custody can hardly be called a detainee taken in without being subjected to the judicial process. However this does not mean that steps shouldn’t be taken regarding those, whose cases are being heard at the magistrate’s court and high courts, who have been in remand custody for an extended period, the CHR statement adds.