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Sri Lanka to 'deradicalise' and 'rehabilitate' those detained under PTA for 'extremist' ideology

According to new regulations under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Sri Lanka will "de-radicalise" and "rehabilitate" individuals who hold "violent extremist ideology."

The recently issued gazette notification states that any individual that surrenders or is detained for "causes or intends to cause commission of acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities or racial or religious groups" can be referred to a "rehabilitation programme."

The regulations claim that the "reintegration centres" are "for the purpose of rehabilitating the surrendees and detainees." Sri Lanka's 'rehabilitation process' has been widely criticised by Tamil activists and and human rights groups as it has been a cover for torture and Individuals can be detained in 'rehabilitation centres' for years without being charged or the benefit of a trial.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who also serves as the Minister of Defence, will oversee the 'rehabilitation process' and will have the power to either order the release of the detainee or extend the process of the rehabilitation. 

The new regulations will expand on the notorious PTA, despite calls for Sri Lanka to repeal the draconian act which allows for unlawful detention practices where individuals to be detained for 18 months without charge, though some have been detained for decades.

In 2010, Sri Lanka lost access to the European Union GSP+ scheme due to its abysmal human rights record but this was later reinstated in 2017 after Sri Lanka made a commitment to repeal the PTA. The Rajapaksa administration have chosen to retain the legislation, withdraw the counter-terror legislation which was proposed to replace it and are now expanding upon the draconian law. 

Read the full gazette notification here


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