Rehabilitation Bill and the SRI LANKAN RULERS!

At Galle Face Green in Colombo many were arrested and later released while children were intimidated as police beat protestors with batons and dragged them along the ground.

In Sri Lanka for several months, hundreds of anti-government protesters were arrested for mass gatherings, that includes few detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; includes student leaders arrested and detained for a 90 day period.

Now government has to increase the repression, introduced a bill to create a new legal-institutional structure to rehabilitate protesters.

The proposed rehabilitation process is frightening because the camps will be run by the army, which keeps confidential records of detainees.

Military personnel in the camps are empowered to maintain peace and discipline. They will be allowed to use minimum force to maintain peace and order. The act precludes civil or criminal charges against any military officer exercising the powers and functions of the Bureau.

This means that the military officers in charge of the camps are given immunity, allowing the use of physical violence and torture against the detainees.

Whatsmore anyone who obstructs officers of rehabilitation centres can be fined and imprisoned for six months. The detainees may be used as forced labour under is a provision that states that the abilities of those receiving treatment and rehabilitation can be used to improve the economy.

Detaining people in rehabilitation camps is not a new experience for Sri Lanka; it happened during the southern uprisings. In the 1980s thousands of young people in the south were imprisoned for years and some youth leaders died in police custody. In the north during the civil-war to the late 2000s, about 11,000 youths from refugee camps were arrested and imprisoned in rehabilitation camps and many died or have been made to disappear.

In spite of all this the government is now planning to imprison protestors for years, especially the young people, under the guise of rehabilitation.

With this in mind the Minister of Judicial Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reform presented the Rehabilitation Bureau Bill to the Cabinet on September 23, 2022.

According to legal experts the 1978 Constitution, the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code Act No. 15 and the Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act No. 15 are sufficient to maintain peace.

Whereas, the laws such as the infamous Prevention of Terrorism Act and the proposed Rehabilitation Bureau bill are intended to suppress dissent.

Under this sinario, the proposed Rehabilitation Bill was referred to the Supreme Court; has determined that, as a whole is inconsistent with article 112 (1) of the constitution. As such may be enacted only by the special majority required by Article 84 (2) of the constitution. All Sri Lankans will watch keenly as to how their 225 peoples representatives respond; when the revised bill is taken up soon for a vote!