By Chandani Kirinde
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has promulgated new regulations under the Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) Act for the deradicalisation of those holding violent extremist religious ideologies.
The regulations will apply to those who surrender to law enforcement officials or are taken into custody on suspicion of being a person who causes or intends to cause acts of violence or religious, racial, or communal disharmony or feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities.
Reintegration centres will be set up under these regulations with the approval of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence which will function under the Commissioner-General of Rehabilitation.
In cases where the Attorney General (AG) is of the opinion based to the nature of the offence committed, a suspect can be rehabilitated at a centre in lieu of instituting criminal proceedings against him, they will be produced before a Magistrate with the written approval of the AG and the Magistrate can refer the suspect for rehabilitation for a period not exceeding one year.
At the end of the specified period, based on a report from the Commissioner-General of Rehabilitation on the nature and progress of the rehabilitation, they will either be released or be subject to a further period of rehabilitation.
The Commissioner-General of Rehabilitation will be required to provide those in rehabilitation with psychosocial assistance and vocational and other training to ensure that such a person is integrated back to the community and to the society once they leave the centres.
The Commissioner-General of Rehabilitation will also be required every three months to forward to the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence a report on the nature and the progress of the rehabilitation program carried out in respect of each person. The Secretary shall submit such a report to the Minister.
The officer in charge of each centre will have the authority to grant permission to parents, relations or guardians as the case may be of those under rehabilitation once every two weeks.
Where a person who enters a rehabilitation centre acts in a manner that is disruptive to the program or detrimental to the interests of the others under rehabilitation at the centre, they will have the order for rehabilitation revoked and will be referred to the AG to consider whether such person can be indicted in lieu of rehabilitation.