UN expresses concern over judiciary’s hands being tied by Attorney General

by Zacki Jabbar

The visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter Terrorism Ben Emmerson has expressed concern at the hands of the Sri Lankan judiciary being tied by the Attorney General in a manner that is wholly incompatible with the rule of law or basic precepts of democratic justice.

Emmerson said at the conclusion of his five day visit in Colombo on Friday that under the system still in operation in Sri Lanka, the Attorney General who was the Chief Prosecutor had the right of veto over any application for bail.

The significance of the systemic use of torture to obtain confessions had to be seen against the deplorable delays that were built into the framework for the handling of cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) through a combination of extended executive detention, and grossly protracted criminal proceedings, he noted

Emmerson said that suspects arrested under the PTA had commonly been held in detention in conditions that amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment for many years without ever having been found guilty of anything and without any effective judicial review of their detention.

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