Colombo [Sri Lanka], August 23 (ANI): The United States and Canada along with the countries in the European Union have expressed concern over Sri Lanka's use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) on protestors who participated in the agitation that led to Gotabaya Rajapaksa stepping down as the President of the economic-crisis hit counry, local media reported.
This follows approval granted by Sri Lanka's Defence Minister and President Ranil Wickremesinghe to detain and interrogate the Convener of the Inter-University Students' Federation Wasantha Mudalige, Activist Hashantha Jeewantha Gunathilake, and Venerable Galwewa Siridhamma Thera for a period of 90-days under the PTA.
The trio was arrested by the country's police on Thursday evening following a protest in Colombo.
Taking to Twitter, Julie Chung, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka said, "Using laws that don't conform with international human rights standards - like the PTA - erodes democracy in Sri Lanka. We encourage the government to uphold the rights of the people to express their views."
The EU reminded the Sri Lankan government about the commitment it gave to the moratorium on the use of the PTA, Colombo Gazette reported.
"Concerned about reports on the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in recent arrests as we refer to the information given by #GoSL to the International Community about the de-facto moratorium of the use of #PTA," the EU delegation in Sri Lanka tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Canadian High commissioner to Sri Lanka, David McKinnon urged the authorities to reconsider the decision of using the PTA.
"We encourage authorities in #SriLanka to reconsider the decision to use the Prevention of Terrorism Act given the #PTA is widely seen as inconsistent with democratic norms and respect for human rights," he tweeted.
The United Kingdom has also raised similar concerns, according to Colombo Gazette.
Notably, on July 9, Sri Lankan protesters broke into then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private residence and set it on fire, angered by the unprecedented economic crisis.
Just a few hours ago with the demand for then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation, they stormed into the compound, tore down security cordons placed by police, took a dip in the swimming pool and romped through his kitchen and home.
Earlier, the police fired tear gas at the protesters but despite that, they entered his house and set the house on fire.
Following this, Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as Prime Minister in May, announced his resignation from his post in order to ensure the continuation of the government and the safety of all the citizens.
On July 21, following the resignation of then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka in Parliament before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya. He was elected as president in an election held in Parliament on July 20.
Notably, Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development progress and severely undermining the country's ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (ANI)