The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) highlighted that it is imperative to ensure that detainees have access to representation by independent legal counsel and are able to have private and unmonitored consultations with the legal counsel.

The HRCSL informed that any confession or statement obtained by way of torture and ill-treatment should not be used as evidence in any legal proceeding and only confessions voluntarily made to a judicial officer should be admissible in evidence.

Chairperson of the HRCSL, Dr. N. Deepika Udagama said that the State should disclose to the detainee at the minimum the crux of the evidence on which the decision to detain him or her was made (Sunil Kumar Rodrigo {on behalf of B. Sirisena Cooray} v. Chandrananda de Silva and Others) even when detained under emergency regulations.

National security legislation, which is being proposed to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act must adhere to international human rights standards and policies, and any limitation on rights should adhere to the test of necessity and proportionality, she mentioned.

“The right to a fair trial, including the right of access to courts for detainees should be recognized and respected fully. The death penalty/capital punishment should be abolished. The burden of proof to justify detention lies with State parties,” she said.

“The review by a court of detentions in a prompt and regular manner is imperative to prevent any violation of the detainees’ rights. Courts must always have the power to assess the merits of the case based on legal criteria and decide whether the detention is justified, and if not, should be empowered to release the detainee. Judicial review of detention would be integral to preventing enforced disappearances,” Udagama pointed out.