(New York) – The Sri Lankan government should withdraw a draft law that would give the authorities broad powers to detain people in military-run “rehabilitation” centers, placing them at great risk of abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. The Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill, submitted to parliament on September 23, 2022, would allow the compulsory detention in centers of “drug dependant persons, ex-combatants, members of violent extremist groups and any other group of persons.”
The Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill would establish a new administrative structure controlled by the Defense Ministry to operate “rehabilitation” centers staffed by military personnel. The proposed law, which human rights advocates have already challenged in the Supreme Court, does not describe the basis for being sent for “rehabilitation,” but other recent government policies provide vague and arbitrary powers to forcibly “rehabilitate” people who have not been convicted of any crime.
“The Sri Lankan government’s proposed ‘rehabilitation’ efforts appear to be nothing more than a new form of abusive detention without charge,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Rehabilitation Bill would open the door widely to more torture, mistreatment, and endless detention.”