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Citizens for Justice and Peace

UN experts call for action to end arbitrary detention in Sri Lanka

18, Dec 2017 | CJP Team

In an announcement, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention “has identified significant challenges to the enjoyment of the right to personal liberty in Sri Lanka, resulting in arbitrary detention across the country.” In a statement, the Working Group said, “The right to personal liberty has yet to be respected by law enforcement, security forces, judicial and other authorities”. According to the OHCHR announcement, the experts said that “current powers to deprive individuals of their liberty extended across a range of facilities,” from police stations and prisons to “centres for juveniles and the elderly” and mental health facilities. They also said that judicial proceedings saw “excessive and unjustified delays” causing the indefinite detention of suspects, with the rights to presumption of innocence and due process not yet completely recognised. The OHCHR announcement noted that the Working Group has called for reforms to tackle problems like the “excessive use of remand” and the “lack of effective alternatives to detention”. Notably, the experts have called for the repeal of the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act that has enabled arbitrary detention for more than forty years. 

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