30 November, 2022

Blog

Sri Lankan Govt. Should Withdraw Draft ‘Rehabilitation’ Law: Human Rights Watch

Sri Lanka: Draft ‘Rehabilitation’ Law Would Spur Abuse – Proposes Detention Without Judicial Review at Military-Run Centers

The Sri Lankan government should withdraw a draft law that would give the authorities broad powers to detain people in military-run “rehabilitation” centers, placing them at great risk of abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. The Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill, submitted to parliament on September 23, 2022, would allow the compulsory detention in centers of “drug dependant persons, ex-combatants, members of violent extremist groups and any other group of persons.”

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill would establish a new administrative structure controlled by the Defense Ministry to operate “rehabilitation” centers staffed by military personnel. The proposed law, which human rights advocates have already challenged in the Supreme Court, does not describe the basis for being sent for “rehabilitation,” but other recent government policies provide vague and arbitrary powers to forcibly “rehabilitate” people who have not been convicted of any crime.

“The Sri Lankan government’s proposed ‘rehabilitation’ efforts appear to be nothing more than a new form of abusive detention without charge,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Rehabilitation Bill would open the door widely to more torture, mistreatment, and endless detention.”

The Sri Lankan government has previously used coercive “rehabilitation” centers to enable arbitrary detention and torture. Following the civil war, which ended in 2009, thousands of people whom the government identified as members of the defeated separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were detained in military-run “rehabilitation” centers, where some were allegedly tortured and subjected to other abuses, including sexual violence. The current bill seeks once again to “rehabilitate” “ex-combatants” 13 years after the war ended.

The Rehabilitation Bill is the latest measure in a long history of laws, such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), that authorize arbitrary detention and torture in Sri Lanka. The law could be used to target minority communities or anti-government protesters whom President Ranil Wickremesinghe has labeled “extremists.

Under the Rehabilitation Bill, which would allow prolonged detention without judicial oversight, government officials would be protected from criminal liability for their actions if they act “in good faith.” The bill also empowers officials to use undefined “minimum force” to “compel obedience” from detainees. Another provision provides that an official who “without reasonable cause” strikes, wounds, ill-treats, or willfully neglects anyone under rehabilitation can be punished by up to 18 months in prison, suggesting that there might be a “reasonable cause” to harm detainees. International law absolutely prohibits torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

A separate bill to amend Sri Lanka’s Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, which was presented to parliament on September 9, provides for the compulsory rehabilitation of alleged drug users. The legislation would worsen already abusive laws and practices under Sri Lanka’s “war on drugs,” which Sri Lankan military officers have repeatedly compared to the “war on terror.”

Sri Lanka already has a system of forced “rehabilitation” for alleged drug users, which is run by the armed forces at two sites previously used to “rehabilitate” former combatants. There have been allegations of forced labor and ill-treatment, including the collective punishment of inmates, who are denied access to medically appropriate treatment for drug dependency while undergoing coercive “de-addiction.” The death of an inmate at the Kandakadu rehabilitation center in June led to the arrest of four army and air force sergeants acting as “therapists.”

International standards for the treatment of addiction maintain that treatment should always be voluntary and addiction regarded primarily as a health condition. The abstinence-based “rehabilitation” programs operated by the military are not based on scientific evidence and provide no harm reduction services.

In 2017, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern at the involvement of the Sri Lankan military in drug treatment and at the lack of medical care, as well as irregularities in the judicial process. The detention of alleged drug users for coercive “rehabilitation” is incompatible with medically appropriate drug dependency treatment and contravenes international law, Human Rights Watch said.

The proposed amendment to the drug law contains provisions to weaken evidentiary standards and deny bail to suspects in some criminal cases related to the possession of drugs. Sri Lanka continues to impose the death penalty for some drug offenses, contrary to international law standards and despite a national moratorium on executions since 1976.

The Rehabilitation Bureau Bill and the proposed amendment to anti-narcotics legislation are only the latest measures in President Wickremesinghe’s assault on fundamental rights, Human Rights Watch said. An attempt to use the Official Secrets Act to restrict public gatherings in the capital, Colombo, was withdrawn earlier in October amid widespread objections that the action was unlawful.

On October 6, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution expressing concern at the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and mandating enhanced UN monitoring, as well as renewing a mandate for the UN to collect and analyze evidence of past human rights violations for use in future prosecutions.

“President Wickremesinghe is pursuing abusive and repressive policies that make it difficult for Sri Lanka’s international partners to wholeheartedly back desperately needed economic measures,” Ganguly said. “Foreign governments should make clear that they will support the urgent needs of the Sri Lankan people, but they will also take action through targeted sanctions and other measures against those committing serious human rights violations.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    In Sri Lanka, corruption at all levels is an accepted phenomenon to protect the crimes of police, military, ruling polticians, officials. Those who enjoyed the Prevention of Terrorism are not prepared to get rid of that even after 40 years because it is a necesity to oppress the rights of the people and to take revenge on those who are a threat to their crimes. Similarly, the executive presidency which introduced in 1978 is to protect the President even if he murder any one. All the political leaders told you that they will remove it but only after they enjoyed that benefits. Gota enhanced his executive power to escape from Easter Bombing and massacre of civilians. Ranil now uses it to stay in power and the new bill to keephis presidency. Unfortunately, human rights watch can only shout but the big players are there to protect them.

  • 7
    1

    We need Legislation like this “Rehabilitation”. The problem we are faced with this proposed Legislation is its “Scope” and the “Mechanism” of operation.

    (1) SCOPE: It must necessarily make provision to “Rehabilitate” all those (Politicians, Public Servants) responsible and accountable for handling STATE FUNCTIONS who have made decisions and executed such decisions to the detriment of the country and the people.

    (2) MECHANISM: There must be an established “Independent Tribunal” to which any citizen/a group could make a complaint and such inquiry must be completed within a specified time frame. If a decision is made to surrender to “Rehabilitate”, ALL must be subjected to the “Order”. The person subjected to such an order, if a Politician/Public Servant MUST immediately be made to “RESIGN” from the position he/she holds and, “REIMBURSE” the loss to the country’s Treasury.

    • 4
      2

      Simon,
      Fully agree with you.
      Add to your valued comments, the following:
      If anyone individual, so undergoing rehabilitation either voluntarily or by evidence provided to the tribunal, subject to enforced or voluntary rehabilitation, shall immediately lose any and all “legal immunity from prosecution and/or privileges, they may have enjoyed due to their position, immediately prior to commencing Rehabilitation process.
      Further, they will have no recourse to regain the lost position as a lifetime ban would be mandatory and as a minimum punishment!!

      • 3
        6

        Thanks, Mahila, for examining this in depth. We need more alert minds like yours.
        .
        I’m doing what I can, but you’re doing it more effectively. There may be others, even better at this than Mahila, who are reading these things, and passing on without commenting.
        .
        Ranil has his proxy here, oc. He’s ten times cleverer than us, so we need at least five more to talk honestly, and intelligently. As it is, we have Native Vedda”, and a few other honest commenters.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC483111444

    • 2
      0

      Simon

      Brilliant.
      I suggest repeated and habitual offenders should be exiled to the the island in the North which was discovered by our Surgeon General Shavendra at the start of the pandemic, designated it for the purpose of detaining (meant as an internment camp for Kallathonies) illegal immigrants from South India, due to expected hunger, discease, and starvation in that part of India. How much did the detention camp cost to set up is not known.

      In fact Surgeon General Shavendra was very proud of his timely security measures.

      Later it transpired refugees are travelling in the opposite direction, from Sri Lanka to the southern tip of Tamilnadu.

      In the meantime Tamilnadu continues to deliver essential stuff including food and medicine.
      How would you punish these stupid army men, who are probably living in their grandparents days?

      • 1
        0

        Native,
        “How would you punish these stupid army men, who are probably living in their grandparents days?”
        You mustn’t blame these guys, who aren’t very bright anyway. As kids, they were told that kallathonis come here because there are no toilets in India. Since they never read anything after leaving school, they don’t know what has happened in the last 30 years. But one thing is true. Sri Lanka has more generals than India.

  • 7
    0

    “Sri Lankan Govt. Should Withdraw Draft ‘Rehabilitation’ Law: Human Rights Watch”

    Interesting
    Our neighbour China has its own Internment Camps, why not Sri Lanka?
    While all Sri Lankans are likely to be sent to Internment Camps by Kamala, Gunadasa Amarasekara is worried about 22A, which he believes could lead to separation of the country.
    Well he got his priorities right, self destruction cannot be stopped.

    Deepti should stop blaming the others.

    • 6
      0

      Native, did you hear PM Namal ( Podi Mynah) saying “protesters should be rehabilitated and not put behind bars.” You know , what that means ??? But Johnston was at his best stating “Rajapaksas are still in power we have our people as President and P.M. Aragalaya should stop if not we will stop (trample ) them”. Mother of all Mynah MR says “election is not an issue for us, if you have one today, we will win”. SJ, prefers internment / rehab camps as in China to Prisons in the U.S. He believes there is no racial profiling in “rehabilitating the bad ones”.

      • 7
        0

        chiv

        As far as Kamala’s idea of introducing/building Chinese model internment camps concerned I wonder why SJ is in his silent mode? Perhaps this is what the Pol Pot supporters wanted all along.

      • 4
        0

        Dear Chiv,
        Using ” podi mynah aka little mynah” to polarize them is also a trick. Humans are like inoculated rats in labs. How stupid they should be. So in an election, do you think would they be against ” mynahs” ?
        If the leaders of a civilized society are told “maina” they will no longer indulge in active politics, but these power-hungry political criminals have no such abandoning nature.
        I hate those who promote SLPP regardless of the facts about these great criminals.

        • 3
          3

          My Dear LM: How have these “Loku Nynah, Podi Mynah” and the rest of the “Gang” who went “Missing” with the onslaught at “Aragalaya” been able to be “Born Again” and who gave that much-needed “Life Blood” with the slogan “Ekwa Nagitumu”?

          I know you must be having the answer. Could you please let me the name of that “MESSIAH” who gave that “LIFE” to “Rajapakse & the Mafia”? Thank you.

        • 3
          1

          LM, rumor is that, “Ranil refused appointing P.M. Namal, Johnston, and Mahindananda as ministers. If true, I may have to change my opinion about Ranil as President (little bit)

          • 1
            0

            Chiv,
            Ranil is using the Pohottuwa majority to push through his own agenda, for example the bill to allow more petroleum distributors. The JVP unions were dead set against it, and even Gota would never have dared. Then there is the creeping privatisation of air transport by allowing Peter Hill to start a new international airline.

  • 7
    0

    Swastihika Arulingam a young Human Rights Lawyer, Womens Rights Activist had just the other day told us about the dangers of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill. It is also on U-Tube. She had brilliantly argued that this Bill is a Concentration Camp in the making.

    But I would welcome this Bill if the 225 Charlatans in Parliament could be Rehabilitated…………

    • 3
      3

      Thanks, Plato,
      .
      I received this link via WhatsApp yesterday:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juDfoHdhLnE
      .
      This Swsathika is pretty effective. A few months ago I saw her in a longish panel discussion.
      .
      We’ve got to get more pro-active; send people like this into Parliament the next time we get a chance.

      • 5
        4

        Sir SM: I agree that these young “Intelligent” (Buddhimath) talents must be in Parliament. How do we do that? This question lingers in my mind of late. I see all types of “Organizations” coming up with young talents. Are they teaming up to contest elections and get elected to Parliament? How far they would be successful in the present setup of the electoral and voting system? How are they capable of imprinting in the minds of the general public to vote for them? Considering the “Voter Mentality”(mostly “Self Seeking” and “Slavish”) of S/L voters, can any “NEW” wave be created by these “Yong Groups”? Can these “New Talent” groups face the “Financial” challenges that are in place in the present election campaigns spread across “Districts” to poll the “Manapaya Votes”? Are these “Young Talents” ready to “MIX” with the most “Desirable” (with their ideologies) political party already experienced in political battles? Are they ready to “Give and Take” on major issues the country is facing?

        At the moment, I find all these “Young Talent” groups are in disarray without any “Goal”, “Guidance”, “Rudderless” or “Leaderless”. Do I have to tell you who would make hey while this situation continues? It would be back to the same old sing-song and dance.

        • 3
          0

          We used to have “First-Past- the-Post”, up to 1977.
          .
          The rest that I’m giving now relates to the UK.
          .
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTqtdK-sqqE – Party standings 1685 to 2019.
          .
          Up to Charles I. the King had enormous powers. But in 1649 King Charles was executed by Oliver Cromwell. The Restoration was in 1660.
          .
          The king still had power in 1685. That was James II.
          .
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6HYUbFKlrM – Professor Tim Wilson Seven minutes. Reference to FPTP
          .
          More later; but really, for this we need an expert on constitutions to write a series of articles on this subject.

          • 0
            1

            PART ONE

            Many are unclear about systems for selecting representatives of the people. First get an overview.
            .
            First past the post has the advantage of ensuring (usually) a strong and stable government. Very recently, I’ve been studying how it’s been working in the UK, but always also exploring how it applies to the Lankan experience after Universal franchise was introduced (in 1930, I think).
            .
            Why the UK? Well, their language has been my profession, and I know the country quite well – from a distance. Many readers have lived and worked there for long, but I have had to study something of its history, owing to my deeper study of its literature than most. Yes, mine is an odd c.v.
            .
            Reminder: what we are studying is “Systems for Selecting Representatives for a Parliament.”

          • 0
            1

            PAUSING for Now.
            .
            I’m pausing here. It is 5.15 am
            . I had written quite a bit, the lost it all because I fell asleep!
            .
            Please follow the current Prime Ministerial stakes in the UK. I certainly find it still stimulating to try guessing what’s going to happen next.
            .
            Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela.

        • 5
          0

          Simon

          “At the moment, I find all these “Young Talent” groups are in disarray without any “Goal”, “Guidance”, “Rudderless” or “Leaderless”.

          Just spend some time at the Airport you will realise the young ones are leaving the country at the first opportunity. Have you ever asked yourself why?

          Would you still want to stay/stuck in this island (that is of course assuming you are young), without a future, hope, ……. especially when all those crooks, doomsayers, murderers, racists, …. and their b**** carriers ….. are on media on 24/7/52 basis?

          There are too many (political as well as religious) leaders and and the entire gang of state functionaries whose negative vibs do not help young ones to be optimistic, positive, vibrant, ….. only the crooks are optimistic, …

          Would you be happy to buy ice cream from any of the following: Nmala Baby, Wimal, Udaya, Shavendra, Fonseka, Kamala, Champika, Nishantha, Gota, Mahinda, Basil, Dinesh, Channa, Gnana Akka, Asgiria, Academics … …. ?

          • 4
            1

            NV: Thanks. Today the Supreme Court ordered that Gotabaya Rajapakse be issued with a summon to appear in court in relation to an FR case filed relating to the “Disappearance” of Kugan Muruganatha and Lalith Weerarajan.

            With that “ORDER”, I am watching whether Gotabaya Rajapakse would be among those leaving the AirPort. Let anyone go, but not these “CRIMINALS”. I hope those leaving and on board will grab him (Gota) and throw him out of the aircraft.

            Of those listed (the ice cream sellers) the name “Channa” strikes me most. He is now named among the “BEST SCIENTISTS” in the “WORLD”. Pl. don’t ask me what that “World” is because I don’t want to be anywhere in that “world”.

            • 4
              0

              Simon

              Do you remember the times when Courts prevented the arrest of Gota in 2015 and in 2018?

              When Sirisena heard that the courts had summoned Gota to appear at the courts he hit the roof. This time around Ranil might use his charm suavely persuade the courts to withdraw its orders citing the instability, the need to build national consensus, …….

              Note Ranil already has pardon a few Tamil detainees today this is to please the Tamil protest.

              Don’t you see he appears to deal with issues even evenhandedly?

              • 2
                0

                Simon

                None of the Rajapaksas will survive outside Sri Lanka.
                They wont have the kind of security they have back in Sri Lanka and the kind of “b****” carriers they need to pamper them and assure their greatness every second of the day.

                Why did Gota return and Mahinda stay put?
                They are addicted to power.
                If ever the clan is found guilty and sentenced, I would recommend that a few Thai monks (experts on treating drug addition) be brought for the purpose of entire clan being treated for addiction.

                In addition Gota and Yoshitha be subjected to Anger Management treatment.

        • 3
          0

          Sensitive Readers
          He calls me a “stupid idiot” and the same person calls his “Siamese twin” as “Sir”. How primitive is this man?

          Thanks for being polite to me so far Mr Simon, but please give us the option in today’s context? Do you think “89 murderers” can make an inch of progress in today’s context? .
          .
          You know very well that the whole country is still supporting the “Criminals spawned by the DA Rajapaksa”. Any open platform meeting is filled with people who further support dogs. If this is still not clear to you and your fellow Bandarawella Siamese brother, please come up with better alternatives. This remains a country full of corrupt people rather than the opposite. If so, it could take another decade or more.

          I strongly think the people of SIMON’S “kadamandiya”can enlighten our “Badaravella Sinhala_Manushya”. He uses bold letters to display his stupidity these days. From what SM posts these days, sharpens this view.

          Please also check SINHALA articles, I will also post the sinhala version of this message for others information.

          • 1
            2

            Dear LM: Who calls you a “Stupid Idiot”? Surely there must be valid reasons. So when you are called by that name, try to think WHY were you subjected to such name calling.

            I know I addressed “SM” in the salutation “Sir” for no reason other than he was a TEACHER in its valued sense. I still call all teachers “Sir” and “Madam”. That is my way and not considering in your still a “Stupid” reasoning of him/her being my relation to a “Siamese Twin”. Cheers! Have a Nice Day.

      • 3
        0

        The present system of proportional representation is good; problems began to arise when amendments distorted the implementation, especially the one allowing MPs to cross-over to the government. I could make a few other comments, but making a constitution is a job for professionals. And not one person. Most important is that a mandate must be obtained from the electorate, using some fair system.
        .
        I will explain to you what AKD has said, about a year ago, went wrong in a 12-minute Youtube. I put it on a few days ago, but it must be explained in English for the Tamil speakers who come here.
        .
        And what happens to more than a 2 million Tamil voters who know only Tamil? Let’s hope that we can persuade young Swasthika to contest from the NPP. And there’s Ms PaulRaj. And Shanakiyan Rasamanikkam? Well, he’s in the TNA. I don’t think that we should be poaching all the good people from other parties. Their political philosophies may be quite different. I think that all leaders in the NPP draw inspiration from Marxism, Dr Harini Amarasuriya included.
        .
        Not so with me, although I have nothing against Marxism.

  • 1
    0

    The Political partiesbshould have a list of candidates for the National list for the future elections. Their list should include the “YOUNG TALENTS”. They should also be selected to stand representing their political parties. Reform the ELECTION RULES to exclude the corrupt people from contesting elections.

  • 0
    0

    The Supreme Court has told the Speaker today that the Bureau of of Rehabilitation Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution and could be enacted only by a special majority in Parliament AND A REFERENDUM or some clauses should be amended……….

    The guillotine has missed the target!

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.