Sri Lanka. Drop terrorism charges against student leaders detained for 90 days

In response to student leaders Wasantha Mudalige and Galwewa Siridhamma Thero being detained for more than 90 days under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, South Asia Regional Researcher at Amnesty International, said :

“The continued targeted persecution of student leaders in Sri Lanka has a chilling effect on civil society and the right to protest. The baseless terrorism charges against Wasantha Mudalige and Galwewa Siridhamma Thero must be immediately dropped and any extension of the detention order must be stopped.

The baseless anti-terrorism charges against Wasantha Mudalige and Galwewa Siridhamma Thero must be immediately dropped and any extension of the detention order must be stopped.

Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, South Asia Regional Researcher at Amnesty International

“The use of counter-terrorism charges against protesters is excessive and disproportionate, but they have been used time and time again by Sri Lankan authorities against critics and minorities to silence dissent. The detention of protesters on counter-terrorism charges is a gross violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a State Party. International human rights law requires that anti-terrorism laws not be used to criminalize those who organize or participate in peaceful assemblies.

“The Sri Lankan authorities must repeal the PTA, which fails to meet international human rights standards, and must uphold their already stated commitment to end its use. Authorities should immediately review the detention of all those held under the PTA, ensuring adequate access to fair release hearings. They should also release any protesters facing similar charges that fail to meet international standards.

International human rights law requires that anti-terrorism laws not be used to criminalize those who organize or participate in peaceful assemblies.

Thyagi Ruwanpathirana

Background:

Sri Lankan student leaders Wasantha Mudalige, the organizer of the Inter-University Federation of Students and Galwewa Siridhamma Thero, the organizer of the Inter-University Federation Bhikku have been detained by Sri Lankan authorities since August 18, 2022. Their detention has been extended of 90 days on August 21, 2022 under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) amid a continued crackdown on protesters by authorities.

Their family members and their lawyer have expressed concerns about their safety and the deterioration of their health during their detention. Amnesty International has issued an urgent action regarding the arbitrary detention of student leaders.

Amnesty International has previously documented the Sri Lankan authorities’ crackdown on protesters who are now being intimidated, harassed and arrested. The crackdown on protests and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, movement and expression must end and the government must protect the right to protest.

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