The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson, who is visiting Sri Lanka, on Thursday visited Vavuniya in the Northern Province and met Tamil political prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The special rapporteur arrived in Sri Lanka on 10 July for a five-day official visit on the invitation of the Sri Lankan Government. His visit is aimed at gathering firsthand information on initiatives in the area of counterterrorism and assessing how they affect the promotion and protection of human rights.
As part of the mission, he met Tamil political prisoners detained under the PTA in Vavuniya. The Sri Lankan Government is in the process of formulating the Counter Terrorism Act, a new anti-terrorism bill to repeal and replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, which was enacted in 1979 to deal with emerging Tamil Tiger terrorism. “I will seek to provide assistance in the discussion of the country’s counter-terrorism policy and legal framework as well as in the preparation and drafting of relevant legislative acts, with a view to ensuring that measures taken by the Government are in compliance with international human rights law,” Emmerson said before his departure to Sri Lanka.
During his five-day mission to the country, Emmerson is scheduled to have high-level meetings with representatives of the Government, including the ministries responsible for foreign affairs, law and order, southern development, justice, defiance, finance, media, prison reforms, rehabilitation, resettlement and Hindu religious affairs.
At the end of his visit, on Friday, 14 July 2017, at 3.00 p.m., Emmerson will share his preliminary observations with the media during a media conference at the UN building in Colombo.