“Successive governments promised the people of Sri Lanka and the international community that the PTA would be repealed and replaced by new legislation that would not violate the country’s constitutional and international human rights obligations,” reads the statement. “The proposed ATA, however, fails to fulfil this promise and in fact contains provisions that make it as bad, if not worse, than the PTA.”
The statement calls for accountability to the public.
“The ATA contains vague definitions that could make dissent, including protests and trade union action, acts of terrorism,” reads the statement. “The definition could also make dissenters ‘terrorists.’ ”
The ATA, among other issues, empowers the executive to decide on and enforce punishments without judicial sanction.
“We note that many of the provisions in the ATA are similar or even worse than the PTA and that it could only lead to further rights violations,” reads the statement. “Proposing a law like the ATA to further strengthen the executive is particularly alarming at a time when there have been widespread calls and support throughout the country to abolish the executive presidency and strengthen the judiciary.”
World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, who visited Sri Lanka in April, expressed his ongoing support for the efforts of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka.
“Churches must exercise their prophetic ministry in the context of rights and responsibilities of people, especially when it comes to demanding accountability from leaders,” he said. “As people struggle to realize their right to live within a just legal system, the World Council of Churches stands with you in solidarity, support and prayer.”