BY RATHINDRA KURUWITA
Regional government officials in the North and East have prevented some of the released detainees, who had spent a number of years imprisoned under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), from obtaining national identification documents, Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Research (CHR), Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said in a brief interview.
“Regional officers have prevented this and this prevents these detainees from re-integrating with the social mainstream” he said.
He added that there have been no discussions at the Ministry of Justice in the last two months to repeal the PTA or release those detained under the Act. In addition, no action has been taken at the AG’s Department as well.
He stressed the point that Justice Minister Wijayedasa Rajapakshe has always taken a very lukewarm attitude to repealing the PTA although President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have pledged to repeal that draconian law.
“We have reliably learnt that there are between 24-27 detainees who have been deemed eligible for release. But, instead of taking action to prosecute or release them, sources claim that the authorities have asked them, via third parties, whether they would like to confess to culpability of charges against them.
If they acknowledge guilt they would either be sent for rehabilitation or will be granted a Presidential pardon. The detainees had however rejected that deal,” he added.
Tennakoon said that the CHR has learnt that some of the recently released detainees are finding it hard to meet the stiff bail conditions. He added that political parties, media and civil society have also dropped these issues.
Tennekoon pleaded for “all the interested parties to take up the cause of those detained under the PTA.
We believe that continuous efforts are needed to repeal the PTA and secure the release of those detained under it because there has been very little or no public debate and compulsion on the issue.”