The UN Human Rights Committee has expressed concern about reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions of anti-government protesters, trade unionists, Tamils, and Muslims without basic legal safeguards.
After examining the States parties in its most recent session, the committee revealed its findings on six countries, namely Egypt, Panama, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, and Zambia. The committee also expressed concern about arbitrary arrests and detentions of Muslim women for wearing a niqab.
The findings contain the committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as positive aspects.
The committee went on to denounce the extensive use of prolonged pre-trial detention, inconsistent bail provisions and ineffective access to non-custodian alternatives in Sri Lanka.
It also called for prompt and effective investigations of allegations of arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as the respect of fundamental legal safeguards for detainees.
The human rights body further expressed concern about the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which allows for extended pre-trial detention for up to 12 months, contains a broad definition of terrorism and is used to target minorities, particularly Muslims and Tamils, government critics and LGBT people and to extract confessions through torture.
It recommended that Sri Lanka repeal the Act and adopt new legislation compatible with the Covenant, as well as the principles of legal certainty, predictability and proportionality while ensuring that the legislative process of the new law is inclusive and transparent.
The Human Rights Committee is the UN body of independent experts that monitors State compliance with and enforces the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The committee on Friday (March 24) concluded its 137th session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Egypt, Panama, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan and Zambia