PTA Bill passed with majority | Daily News

PTA Bill passed with majority

Suspects can challenge detention:
Magistrate must visit detainee in prison:
Right to a counsel guaranteed:

The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill was passed by a majority of 51 votes in Parliament yesterday (22).

Eighty six votes were cast in favour of the Bill while only 35 votes were cast against it.Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the JVP-led Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB) voted against the Bill.

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara also voted in favour of the Bill.TNA MP M.A.Sumanthiran and JJB leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake called for a division following the debate. Accordingly, the vote was taken.

The debate on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill was held in

Parliament yesterday with many MPs from the Government and the Opposition expressing their views.

The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill to amend the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No 48 of 1979 was presented to the House on February 10 by Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris.

He emphasized that the amendments to the PTA are not merely cosmetic, adding that these amendments would make substantive changes to the Bill.

Among the relevant amendments, instead of detainees languishing in prisons for a long time, cases related to the PTA will be taken up on a day-to-day basis with a publicly accessible report of reasons by the High Court underlying reasons if it is unable to hold the case on a certain day.

When a suspect is taken into custody with a Detention Order, as soon as the Detention Order is made, a certified copy should be submitted to the Magistrate of the area within 48 hours.

The Magistrate himself must visit the detainee at least once a month to ensure the well-being of the detainee, this being a non-delegable task.

During the Magistrate’s visit, he or she must ensure that the detainee has not undergone any maltreatment or torture, with mental torture now being added to the definition of torture.

If the detainee complains of any maltreatment or torture, the Magistrate will record his/her observations and then will bring the detainee before a Judicial Medical Officer (JMO).

If the JMO’s report confirms of any maltreatment or torture of the detainee, then the detainee will be directed to adequate medical care and the Magistrate shall direct the IGP according to the AG’s advice to go ahead with criminal proceedings against the perpetrators.

If the detainee has undergone any maltreatment or torture, they can be relocated to a new place as well. Detainees under the PTA will now have the right to a counsel in detention.

Provisions will also be made to allow communications with the next of kin while the detainees are under custody.

Suspects could earlier be kept in custody for 18 months without being produced before Court. This has been reduced to 12 months.

Suspects who are being detained can now approach the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal and challenge detention.

Those who were being detained for more than one year can request for bail, whether the Attorney General gives his consent or not.

The Government delegation outlined these progressive steps before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Sessions in Geneva recently.


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