Amnesty International (AI) Asia advocacy director Carolyn Nash said that the United States needs to send a clear message to President Ranil Wickremesinghe that the proposed anti-terrorism act must be overhauled entirely or scrapped altogether.
She was responding to the publication of the draft text of the act by the Sri Lankan government.
The draft anti-terrorism act categorically fails on every human rights benchmark, said Nash in a statement.
If the Biden administration values the rights of the Sri Lankan people, they need to send a clear message to the President, Nash said.
The government of Sri Lanka has been using the draconian prevention of terrorism act (PTA) to detain and torture critics and minorities for over four decades.
International condemnation of the PTA led the government of Sri Lanka to commit to repealing the law.
The ATA, published on March 22 is the replacement legislation the government has proposed after another bill brought in 2018 was shelved after widespread condemnation.
“If the administration and Congress are silent as this draft law advances, they will allow the Sri Lankan government to further cement its ability to suppress dissent,” said Nash.
“The proposed legislation is an insult to civil society in Sri Lanka, who have advocated for decades for legal reforms to protect human rights.”
“This is far from a good faith effort on the part of the Sri Lankan authorities to improve or replace a bad law – it is an effort to shore up the government’s ability to target and silence their critics,” she added.