Sri Lanka Collective Against Torture (SLCAT) Addresses Human Rights Concerns in Recent Meeting

The Sri Lanka Collective Against Torture (SLCAT) convened on 13th February to discuss critical issues pertaining to human rights violations, focusing on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Yukthiya anti-drugs operation.

SLCAT, established in 2009, comprises 27 organizations collaborating to eliminate torture in Sri Lanka. During the meeting, Philip Dissanayake, a representative of SLCAT, highlighted the organization’s commitment to evaluating the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, particularly in relation to torture, and publishing a comprehensive report this year.

The discussion extensively covered concerns about the PTA and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Participants expressed worries about the broad definition of terrorism in the ATA, potential misuse of the law, and the lack of awareness among the public, especially in the north. The meeting also delved into the implications of the Yukthiya anti-drugs operation, addressing issues such as illegal arrests, surveillance, and overcrowding of prisons.

Participants voiced their apprehensions about the Rehabilitation Authority Bill, focusing on the need for collective action. The meeting emphasized the importance of engaging with political parties, such as the SJB and TNA, which oppose the ATA. Financial literacy, particularly related to micro-finance issues affecting millions of families, was also discussed.

SLCAT members proposed various actions, including legal challenges, issuing statements, and sharing information to raise awareness among activists in the Northern Province. The meeting concluded with a commitment to gathering factual information regarding PTA arrests and actions under the Torture Act.

Dr. Jehan, a participant, highlighted the ongoing advocacy against repressive laws, emphasizing the challenges faced by SLCAT and other NGOs. Sister Deepa from SEDEC expressed readiness to support CSOs in their efforts.

As the meeting concluded, SLCAT affirmed its dedication to advocating for human rights and pledged to continue working towards the elimination of torture and the promotion of justice in Sri Lanka.

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