Sri Lanka: Draft ‘Rehabilitation’ Law Would Spur Abuse

(New York) – The Sri Lankan govt really should withdraw a draft legislation that would give the authorities broad powers to detain men and women in army-run “rehabilitation” centers, positioning them at good risk of abuse, Human Legal rights Watch claimed now. The Bureau of Rehabilitation Invoice, submitted to parliament on September 23, 2022, would let the compulsory detention in facilities of “drug dependant individuals, ex-combatants, members of violent extremist groups and any other group of people.”

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Invoice would build a new administrative composition managed by the Defense Ministry to operate “rehabilitation” centers staffed by armed forces staff. The proposed law, which human rights advocates have now challenged in the Supreme Court, does not describe the foundation for staying sent for “rehabilitation,” but other modern governing administration policies supply obscure and arbitrary powers to forcibly “rehabilitate” folks who have not been convicted of any crime.

“The Sri Lankan government’s proposed ‘rehabilitation’ initiatives surface to be absolutely nothing more than a new type of abusive detention without cost,” explained Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Legal rights Enjoy. “The Rehabilitation Bill would open up the door extensively to far more torture, mistreatment, and unlimited detention.”

The Sri Lankan governing administration has previously made use of coercive “rehabilitation” centers to allow arbitrary detention and torture. Subsequent the civil war, which ended in 2009, thousands of men and women whom the authorities identified as associates of the defeated separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were detained in armed forces-operate “rehabilitation” centers, the place some ended up allegedly tortured and subjected to other abuses, together with sexual violence. The recent monthly bill seeks as soon as once more to “rehabilitate” “ex-combatants” 13 yrs just after the war ended.

The Rehabilitation Bill is the most recent measure in a extensive history of legal guidelines, this sort of as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), that authorize arbitrary detention and torture in Sri Lanka. The law could be made use of to focus on minority communities or anti-government protesters whom President Ranil Wickremesinghe has labeled “extremists.”

Below the Rehabilitation Bill, which would allow extended detention without the need of judicial oversight, government officials would be guarded from felony legal responsibility for their actions if they act “in excellent religion.” The bill also empowers officials to use undefined “minimum force” to “compel obedience” from detainees. A different provision supplies that an official who “without reasonable cause” strikes, wounds, unwell-treats, or willfully neglects everyone less than rehabilitation can be punished by up to 18 months in prison, suggesting that there might be a “reasonable cause” to harm detainees. Worldwide legislation completely prohibits torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading remedy or punishment.

A separate invoice to amend Sri Lanka’s Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, which was introduced to parliament on September 9, presents for the compulsory rehabilitation of alleged drug customers. The legislation would worsen already abusive legal guidelines and methods beneath Sri Lanka’s “war on prescription drugs,” which Sri Lankan military services officers have regularly as opposed to the “war on terror.”

Sri Lanka now has a program of forced “rehabilitation” for alleged drug people, which is operate by the armed forces at two web pages previously made use of to “rehabilitate” previous combatants. There have been allegations of compelled labor and ill-cure, which include the collective punishment of inmates, who are denied access to medically ideal treatment for drug dependency although going through coercive “de-dependancy.” The death of an inmate at the Kandakadu rehabilitation heart in June led to the arrest of 4 army and air pressure sergeants performing as “therapists.”

International criteria for the therapy of addiction keep that cure should constantly be voluntary and dependancy regarded mainly as a well being condition. The abstinence-based mostly “rehabilitation” applications operated by the army are not based on scientific evidence and present no hurt reduction solutions.

In 2017, the United Nations Working Team on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern at the involvement of the Sri Lankan armed service in drug therapy and at the lack of health-related treatment, as properly as irregularities in the judicial system. The detention of alleged drug consumers for coercive “rehabilitation” is incompatible with medically proper drug dependency remedy and contravenes global regulation, Human Legal rights Observe mentioned.

The proposed amendment to the drug regulation consists of provisions to weaken evidentiary requirements and deny bail to suspects in some legal circumstances related to the possession of drugs. Sri Lanka proceeds to impose the death penalty for some drug offenses, opposite to worldwide regulation standards and regardless of a nationwide moratorium on executions due to the fact 1976.

The Rehabilitation Bureau Monthly bill and the proposed amendment to anti-narcotics legislation are only the most recent steps in President Wickremesinghe’s assault on essential legal rights, Human Rights Enjoy said. An try to use the Official Insider secrets Act to restrict public gatherings in the cash, Colombo, was withdrawn before in October amid prevalent objections that the action was unlawful.

On October 6, the United Nations Human Legal rights Council adopted a resolution expressing problem at the human rights scenario in Sri Lanka and mandating improved UN checking, as well as renewing a mandate for the UN to obtain and examine evidence of previous human rights violations for use in upcoming prosecutions.

“President Wickremesinghe is pursuing abusive and repressive insurance policies that make it difficult for Sri Lanka’s global associates to wholeheartedly back again desperately wanted economic steps,” Ganguly claimed. “Foreign governments ought to make crystal clear that they will support the urgent demands of the Sri Lankan persons, but they will also acquire action by way of focused sanctions and other measures from those people committing really serious human legal rights violations.”