Global Human Rights Defence

Sri Lanka’s prevention of terrorism act as an instrument of discrimination against the Tamil minority
Source: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images, 2015.

Judit Kolbe – GHRD
October 2021

On the 12th of September 2021, Tamil[1] prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) were held at gunpoint by the allegedly intoxicated Prison Minister, Lohan Ratwatte, in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.[2] While Ratwatte has since resigned his mandate as Prison Minister, he remains a Minister for Gems and Jewelry.[3] The event is one of many that highlight the human rights abuses under the current Sri Lankan government. In particular, it showcases how the PTA is used to violate (Tamil) fundamental rights and the arbitrary power wielded by government and security officials. Furthermore, the lack of (criminal) accountability for security and government officials is made visible by the aforementioned event.

History of the PTA

 When the PTA was originally adopted in 1979, it was intended as a temporary legislative means, later made permanent in 1982, to counter and address separatist insurgencies and the resulting civil war with the minority Tamils who were pursuing the separate state of the Eelam.[4] The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) became the main proponent of the Tamil separatist idea in the civil war; however, at the time of adoption and entry into force of the PTA, various other “youth secessionist groups” had been established as a response to Sri Lanka’s racist and discriminatory anti-Tamil politics and legislation.[5] Now, more than 40 years later, the LTTE are no longer a danger since the government defeated them in 2009, yet the legislation still stands and has become a permanent aspect of the criminal justice system of Sri Lanka.[6]

“They can arrest you for anything.”
Meenaksashi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, 2021[7]

Under the PTA of 1979, suspects of “any lawful activity” can be arrested and detained without a warrant.[8] The detention of these suspects is lawful for up to 3 months, which can be prolonged to 18, without any concrete charges being filed against them.[9] Said decision to detain is barred from judicial review of any kind.[10] Furthermore, it gives the Minister of Defence the competence to limit the freedom of association and the freedom of expression without the possibility of appealing these restrictions.[11] Additionally, under the PTA special rules exist for evidence that allow for uncorroborated confessions made to police officers to be admissible in court, as well as placing the onus on the suspect to prove in front of the court that a statement was made under duress.[12]

 While in 2017, a new Counter Terrorism Bill was presented, it was never passed into law, due to the government under the new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (since 2019) expressing their intention to keep the original PTA in force.[13] Moreover, on the 9th of March 2021, the Sri Lankan government extended the PTA by allowing for two years of detention without a trial for causing “religious, racial, or communal disharmony”.[14] This amendment enables security forces to detain individuals in “reintegration centers” if this person “by words either spoken or intended” commits or seeks to commit “acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities or racial or religious groups”.[15] Many human rights organisations and advocates, such as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, have pointed out the discriminatory nature of this amendment concerning religious and racial minorities and the violation of their basic human rights, such as the right to a fair trial.[16]

How the PTA violates Tamils’ human rights

 The PTA has been characterised as draconian by various human rights advocates, experts and organisations.[17] It is well documented how the PTA has been used to (arbitrarily) arrest people and detain them for months without any charge or trial brought against them.[18] Furthermore, there is ample evidence that detainees held under the PTA are being tortured while in custody or have been victims of enforced disappearances.[19] While the PTA has affected individuals from various minority communities in Sri Lanka, the Tamil minority has historically experienceed the most discrimination under the PTA, possibly due to the legislations’ origin, explained above.[20]

“Since the authorities use this legislation disproportionately against members of the Tamil community, it is this community that has borne the brunt of the State’s well-oiled torture apparatus.”

Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, 2017[21]

In September of 2021, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP)[22] published a new report documenting alleged torture and other abuses against 15 Tamil prisoners detained under the PTA, representing the most detailed account of alleged new abuses in Sri Lanka since the inauguration of President Rajapaksa in 2019.[23]

Several provisions in the PTA go against international human rights standards and treaties ratified by Sri Lanka or incite and cultivate conduct to this end.[24]  The provisions relating to the lengthy detention and the exclusion of judicial review violate the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and the right to judicial review of the detention, both non-derogable rights, as well as the right to be brought promptly before a judge.[25] Additionally, the rules on confessions and evidence, as well as the burden of proof of duress being on the victim, have led to forced confessions and cases of torture to obtain such confessions, clearly in violation of the rule of inadmissibility of evidence obtained under torture.[26] Moreover, routine and systematic use of torture against individuals detained under the PTA go against numerous provisions prohibiting the use of torture and ill-treatment, which is an absolute right.[27] Forced disappearances and the clear discrimination against the Tamil minority, being primarily and often arbitrarily arrested under the PTA, infringe upon further international law binding on Sri Lanka.[28] Furthermore, the PTA contains a broad immunity clause.[29] In practice the lack of effective investigations and accountability for the aforementioned human rights violations has caused the development of a culture of impunity that violates the right of victims to remedy and adequate reparation.[30]

Therefore, the PTA infringes upon several human rights provisions which Sri Lanka is bound by, notably the right to a fair trial, the prohibition of torture and the prohibition of discrimination.

“[The PTA] has fostered the endemic and systematic use of torture. Entire communities have been stigmatised and targeted for harassment and arbitrary arrest and detention, and any person suspected of association, however indirect, with the LTTE remains at immediate risk of detention and torture.”

Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, 2017[31]


International pressure to repeal the PTA

 The international community is aware of the dangers inherent in the PTA, as evidenced by the UN repeatedly urging the Sri Lankan government to abolish the law, as it has pledged to do numerous times. In 2015, the UN Human Rights Committee (UN HRC) adopted Resolution 30/1, under which Sri Lanka was to repeal the PTA, ensure accountability and other human rights related reforms, which the then-government under President Sirisena agreed to.[32] However, the PTA was never repealed. Furthermore, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, visited Sri Lanka in 2017.[33] In his statement following the visit and in the 2018-published report, he highlighted the discrimination and torture experienced by people detained under the PTA, especially members of the minority Tamil community, and urged the Sri Lankan government again to repeal the “deeply flawed legislation”.[34] Yet, nothing ever happened in regards to the promise to repeal the law. Earlier this year, in March 2021, the UN HRC adopted another Resolution, Resolution 46/1, “promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”, due to growing concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, among others due to the COVID-19 pandemic, within which the UN HRC again urged the Sri Lankan government to keep its word and repeal the PTA.[35] At the 48th session of the UN HRC that began in September 2021, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN HCHR), Michelle Bachelet, identified a number of risks to human rights in Sri Lanka and once again reminded the Sri Lankan government of repealing the PTA. [36]

The PTA and its implementation by security and police authorities violate the fundamental rights of the Tamil community and it fosters a culture of impunity of officials who trigger these violations. Since its origin, this legislation has been instrumentalised to discriminate against the Tamil minority, and despite consecutive governments promising its abolishment, the law is still in force. The repeal of the PTA is crucial for Sri Lanka to fulfill its promises and international human rights obligations owed to its (minority) citizens.

Bibliography

International Law

United Nations General Assembly (2021, March 16). 46/… Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, A/HRC/46/L.1/Rev.1. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G21/064/41/PDF/G2106441.pdf?OpenElement,

Domestic (Sri Lankan) Law

Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) Act No. 48 of 1979. http://www.commonlii.org/lk/legis/num_act/potpa48o1979608/

Proposed Counter Terrorism Bill, The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Part II of 14 September 2018, SUPPLEMENT, issued 17 September 2018, http://documents.gov.lk/files/bill/2018/9/528-2018_E.pdf

Prevention of Terrorism (De-radicalization from holding violent extremist religious ideology) Regulations No. 01 of 2021, http://www.documents.gov.lk/files/egz/2021/3/2218-68_E.pdf

News Articles

Daily FT (2020, January 4). PTA to remain as Govt. kicks proposed counterterrorism legislation to curb. Daily FT. https://www.ft.lk/news/PTA-to-remain-as-Govt-kicks-proposed-counterterrorism-legislation-to-curb/56-693010

Rathnayake, D. (2021, September 15). Lohan Ratwatte allegedly breaks into Anuradhapura Prison. The Morning. https://www.themorning.lk/lohan-ratwatte-breaks-into-anuradhapura-prison/

Tamil Guardian (2021, September 15). Drunk Sri Lankan minister forces Tamil prisoners to kneel at gunpoint. Tamil Guardian. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/drunk-sri-lankan-minister-forces-tamil-prisoners-kneel-gunpoint

Articles

Amnesty International (2019, January 31). Countering Terrorism at the Expense of Human Rights – Concerns with Sri Lanka’s counter terrorism bill. Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa37/9770/2019/en/

Amnesty International (2021, March 19). Increased Marginalization, Discrimination and Targeting of Sri Lanka’s Muslim Community. Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ASA3738662021ENGLISH.pdf

Anandakugan, N. (2020, August 31). The Sri Lankan Civil War and Its History, Revisited in 2020. Harvard International Review. https://hir.harvard.edu/sri-lankan-civil-war/

DeVotta, N. (2021, June 14). [ADERN Issue Briefing] Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act: AN Anti-Minority Cudgel. Asia Democracy Research Network. http://www.adrnresearch.org/publications/list.php?cid=2&sp=%26sp%5B%5D%3D1%26sp%5B%5D%3D2%26sp%5B%5D%3D3&pn=1&st=&acode=Commentary&code=&at=view&idx=166&ckattempt=3#_ftnref1

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2018, January 29). Sri Lanka: Repeal Draconian Security Law – Failure to Meet Pledges on Accountability, Counterterrorism Reforms. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/29/sri-lanka-repeal-draconian-security-law

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2018, January 29). Locked Up Without Evidence- Abuses under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/01/29/locked-without-evidence/abuses-under-sri-lankas-prevention-terrorism-act

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2020, January 10). Sri Lanka: Repeal Abusive Counterterrorism Law – Uphold Pledges to United Nations, European Union. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/10/sri-lanka-repeal-abusive-counterterrorism-law

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2021, March 16). Sri Lanka: ‘Religious Disharmony’ Order Threatens Minorities – Withdraw Expansion of Notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act. Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/16/sri-lanka-religious-disharmony-order-threatens-minorities

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2021, September 10). Sri Lanka: UN Rights Council Scrutiny Crucial. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/10/sri-lanka-un-rights-council-scrutiny-crucial

Tegal, E. and Ismail, A. (2021, August 25). The Prevention of Terrorism Act: Whom Does It Keep Safe?. Groundviews. https://groundviews.org/2021/05/25/the-prevention-of-terrorism-act-who-does-it-keep-safe/

UN Publications

United Nations Sri Lanka (2017, July 14). Full Statement by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit. UN Sri Lanka. https://lk.one.un.org/news/full-statement-by-ben-emmerson-un-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-and-counter-terrorism-at-the-conclusion-of-his-official-visit/

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UN OHCHR) (2017, July 14). Human rights and counter-terrorism: UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism concludes visit to Sri Lanka – Preliminary findings of the visit to Sri Lanka. UN OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21883&LangID=E

UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement

United Nations Human Rights Council (2021, September 13). Oral Update on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka; 48th session of the Human Rights Council, Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations Human Rights Council. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27447&LangID=E

Sri Lankan government publications

Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka (2020). Overview Conventions. Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka. https://mfa.gov.lk/overview/

United Kingdom publications

Home Office (2021, August). Country Police and Information Note: Sri Lanka – Religious Minorities. Home Office. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1014171/Sri_Lanka_-_Religious_Minorities_-_CPIN_-_v2.0_-_August_2021.pdf

Other

International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) (2021, September 21). Sri Lanka: Torture & Sexual Violence by Security Forces 2020-21. ITJP. https://itjpsl.com/assets/ITJP-Torture-report-2021-Sep-ENGLISH.pdf

International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) (2021). About – Mission. ITJP. https://itjpsl.com/about

[1] The Tamils are the largest ethnic minority group in Sri Lanka, accounting for 12.6% of the population. Since Sri Lanka’s independence in the 1950s, there have been many conflicts involving the Tamils and the Sinhalese, the majority population of Sri Lanka (74.9%), which ultimately resulted in Sri Lanka’s Civil War between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) and the primarily Sinhalese government. While the war officially ended in 2009, violence and discrimination against the Tamil minority group persists until today. Home Office (2021, August). Country Police and Information Note: Sri Lanka – Religious Minorities. Home Office. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1014171/Sri_Lanka_-_Religious_Minorities_-_CPIN_-_v2.0_-_August_2021.pdf, accessed 01 November 2021; Anandakugan, N. (2020, August 31). The Sri Lankan Civil War and Its History, Revisited in 2020. Harvard International Review. https://hir.harvard.edu/sri-lankan-civil-war/, accessed 01 November 2021.

[2] Tamil Guardian (2021, September 15). Drunk Sri Lankan minister forces Tamil prisoners to kneel at gunpoint. Tamil Guardian. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/drunk-sri-lankan-minister-forces-tamil-prisoners-kneel-gunpoint, accessed 25 October 2021; Rathnayake, D. (2021, September 15). Lohan Ratwatte allegedly breaks into Anuradhapura Prison. The Morning. https://www.themorning.lk/lohan-ratwatte-breaks-into-anuradhapura-prison/, accessed 25 October 2021.

[3] Ibid.

[4] DeVotta, N. (2021, June 14). [ADERN Issue Briefing] Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act: AN Anti-Minority Cudgel. Asia Democracy Research Network. http://www.adrnresearch.org/publications/list.php?cid=2&sp=%26sp%5B%5D%3D1%26sp%5B%5D%3D2%26sp%5B%5D%3D3&pn=1&st=&acode=Commentary&code=&at=view&idx=166&ckattempt=3#_ftnref1, accessed 25 October 2021.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Amnesty International (2019, January 31). Countering Terrorism at the Expense of Human Rights – Concerns with Sri Lanka’s counter terrorism bill, p.2. Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa37/9770/2019/en/, accessed 25 October 2021.

[7] Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2021, September 10). Sri Lanka: UN Rights Council Scrutiny Crucial. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/10/sri-lanka-un-rights-council-scrutiny-crucial, accessed 25 October 2021.

[8] Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) Act No. 48 of 1979, http://www.commonlii.org/lk/legis/num_act/potpa48o1979608/, Sect. 6(1).

[9] Ibid, Sect. 9(1).

[10] Ibid, Sect. 10.

[11] Ibid, Sects. 11(1) and (3).

[12] Ibid, Sects. 16 and 17.

[13] Daily FT (2020, January 4). PTA to remain as Govt. kicks proposed counterterrorism legislation to curb. Daily FT. https://www.ft.lk/news/PTA-to-remain-as-Govt-kicks-proposed-counterterrorism-legislation-to-curb/56-693010, accessed 25 October 2021, Proposed Counter Terrorism Bill, The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Part II of 14 September 2018, SUPPLEMENT, issued 17 September 2018, http://documents.gov.lk/files/bill/2018/9/528-2018_E.pdf, accessed 25 October 2021.

[14] Prevention of Terrorism (De-radicalization from holding violent extremist religious ideology) Regulations No. 01 of 2021, http://www.documents.gov.lk/files/egz/2021/3/2218-68_E.pdf, accessed 26 October 2021.

[15] Ibid, Sect. 2

[16] Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2021, March 16). Sri Lanka: ‘Religious Disharmony’ Order Threatens Minorities – Withdraw Expansion of Notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act. Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/16/sri-lanka-religious-disharmony-order-threatens-minorities, accessed 26 October 2021; Amnesty International (2021, March 19). Increased Marginalization, Discrimination and Targeting of Sri Lanka’s Muslim Community. Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ASA3738662021ENGLISH.pdf, accessed 01 November 2021.

[17] Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2018, January 29). Sri Lanka: Repeal Draconian Security Law – Failure to Meet Pledges on Accountability, Counterterrorism Reforms. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/29/sri-lanka-repeal-draconian-security-law, accessed 01 November 2021; Tegal, E. and Ismail, A. (2021, August 25). The Prevention of Terrorism Act: Whom Does It Keep Safe?. Groundviews. https://groundviews.org/2021/05/25/the-prevention-of-terrorism-act-who-does-it-keep-safe/, accessed 25 October 2021;

[18] Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2018, January 29). Locked Up Without Evidence- Abuses under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/01/29/locked-without-evidence/abuses-under-sri-lankas-prevention-terrorism-act, accessed 26 October 2021;  Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2020, January 10). Sri Lanka: Repeal Abusive Counterterrorism Law – Uphold Pledges to United Nations, European Union. HRW. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/10/sri-lanka-repeal-abusive-counterterrorism-law, accessed 25 October 2021.

[19] Ibid.

[20] DeVotta, N. (2021, June 14). [ADERN Issue Briefing] Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act: AN Anti-Minority Cudgel. Asia Democracy Research Network. http://www.adrnresearch.org/publications/list.php?cid=2&sp=%26sp%5B%5D%3D1%26sp%5B%5D%3D2%26sp%5B%5D%3D3&pn=1&st=&acode=Commentary&code=&at=view&idx=166&ckattempt=3#_ftnref1, accessed 25 October 2021; Tegal, E. and Ismail, A. (2021, August 25). The Prevention of Terrorism Act: Whom Does It Keep Safe?. Groundviews. https://groundviews.org/2021/05/25/the-prevention-of-terrorism-act-who-does-it-keep-safe/, accessed 25 October 2021.

[21] United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UN OHCHR) (2017, July 14). Human rights and counter-terrorism: UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism concludes visit to Sri Lanka – Preliminary findings of the visit to Sri Lanka. UN OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21883&LangID=E, accessed 25 October 2021.

[22] Established in 2013, ITJP is an independent international non-profit organization, comprising human rights lawyers, journalists and researchers who seeks to protect and promote justice and accountability in Sri Lanka. International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) (2021). About – Mission. ITJP. https://itjpsl.com/about, accessed 01 November 2021.

[23] International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) (2021, September 21). Sri Lanka: Torture & Sexual Violence by Security Forces 2020-21. ITJP. https://itjpsl.com/assets/ITJP-Torture-report-2021-Sep-ENGLISH.pdf, accessed 26 October 2021.

[24] Sri Lanka is party to several human rights treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT); the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD); the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED); see Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka (2020). Overview Conventions. Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka. https://mfa.gov.lk/overview/, accessed 27 October 2021.

[25] UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 6. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021; See also ICCPR, Art. 14.

[26] UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 7. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021; See also UNCAT, Art. 15.

[27] UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 7. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021.

[28] UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 15. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021; United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UN OHCHR) (2017, July 14). Human rights and counter-terrorism: UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism concludes visit to Sri Lanka – Preliminary findings of the visit to Sri Lanka. UN OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21883&LangID=E, accessed 25 October 2021; See also ICERD and ICPPED. 

[29] Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) Act No. 48 of 1979, Sect. 26. http://www.commonlii.org/lk/legis/num_act/potpa48o1979608/, accessed 26 October 2021.

[30] UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 12-13. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement; UNCAT, Arts. 14, 22; ICCPR, Art. 14.

[31] United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UN OHCHR) (2017, July 14). Human rights and counter-terrorism: UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism concludes visit to Sri Lanka – Preliminary findings of the visit to Sri Lanka. UN OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21883&LangID=E, accessed 25 October 2021.

[32] UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 12-13. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021.

[33] United Nations Sri Lanka (2017, July 14). Full Statement by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit. UN Sri Lanka. https://lk.one.un.org/news/full-statement-by-ben-emmerson-un-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-and-counter-terrorism-at-the-conclusion-of-his-official-visit/, accessed 26 October 2021.

[34] United Nations Sri Lanka (2017, July 14). Full Statement by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit. UN Sri Lanka. https://lk.one.un.org/news/full-statement-by-ben-emmerson-un-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-and-counter-terrorism-at-the-conclusion-of-his-official-visit/, accessed 26 October 2021.; UN Human Rights Council (2018, December 14). Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Doc A/HRC/40/52/Add.3, p. 5. UN General Assembly. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/365/91/PDF/G1836591.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021.

[35] United Nations General Assembly (2021, March 16). 46/… Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, A/HRC/46/L.1/Rev.1. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G21/064/41/PDF/G2106441.pdf?OpenElement, accessed 26 October 2021.

[36] United Nations Human Rights Council (2021, September 13). Oral Update on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka; 48th session of the Human Rights Council, Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations Human Rights Council. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27447&LangID=E, accessed 26 October 2021.

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Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)
(Europe)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher
(Africa)

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher
(Africa)​

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.

 

Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.