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Sri Lanka’s “de-radicalisation” regulations draw strong criticism from HRW, ICJ

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new ‘de-radicalisation” regulations have drawn strong criticism from the Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

Earlier this week (16), the Human Rights Watch urged the government to immediately withdraw the Prevention of Terrorism (De-radicalisation from holding violent extremist religious ideology) Regulations No 01 of 2021 issued on 9 March, which the organization said allows two-years of detention without trial for causing “religious, racial, or communal disharmony.” The regulation, it said, expands Sri Lanka’s “draconian and abusive” Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

“The regulation will allow the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to more easily target religious and racial minorities, in violation of their basic rights. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is considering a resolution to strengthen monitoring and promote accountability for human rights violations in Sri Lanka, after the UN high commissioner on human rights identified “clear early warning signs … of future violations,”” the HRW said.

“The Sri Lankan Government has added a new weapon to its arsenal of abusive laws, putting religious and racial minorities at greater risk of torture and prolonged detention without trial,” HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly was quoted as saying in an official statement. “Instead of addressing the UN’s concerns by repealing the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Rajapaksa administration is embracing it with a vengeance.”

The ICJ, meanwhile, expressing similar sentiments, condemned the new regulations yesterday, which the group said could disproportionately target minority religious and ethnic communities in Sri Lanka.

“These regulations, which have been dictated by executive fiat, allow for effective imprisonment of people without trial and so are in blatant violation of Sri Lanka’s international legal obligations and Sri Lanka’s own constitutional guarantees under Article 13 of the Sri Lankan Constitution,”ICJ’s Legal and Policy Director Ian Seiderman was quoted as saying.

“The new regulations are likely to be used as a bargaining tool where the option is given to a detainee to choose between a year or two spent in “rehabilitation” or detention and trial for an indeterminate period of time, instead of a fair trial on legitimate charges,” he added. (Colombo/Mar19/2021)

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