Rehab process nears end


By Shamindra Ferdinando

While the AP reported a surge in arrests and prosecutions under new or toughened anti-terror laws following the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks targeting the US, Sri Lanka is hopeful that all LTTE terrorists detained at the conclusion of the war in May 2009, except those to be prosecuted, will be released before the end of this year.

Interestingly, the AP doesn’t make any reference to the LTTE in spite of the group being proscribed in 32 countries, including the US, UK, India and Canada. Members of the LTTE and its agents are detained in several countries, including India, US, UK and Norway, while the Netherlands is investigating LTTE extortion and fund raising operations.

Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Maj. Gen. Nandana Rajaguru yesterday told The Island that as many as 1,500 LTTE cadres could be released by the end of this month from rehabilitation facilities. Asked whether the rehabilitation process could be completed this year, Maj. Gen. Rajaguru said that there were only 2,700 LTTE cadres, including about 100 women at seven rehabilitation camps.

The official said that 24 rehabilitation centers had received 11,951 men and women for post-war rehabilitation. "Of them only 2,700 remained with us, and they, too, will be released in batches before the end of this year. With the gradual release of former LTTE cadres, the government closed down rehabilitation camps. We are running two camps in the East, four in Vavuniya and one in Jaffna," Rajaguru said.

The official said that three of the seven remaining camps could be shut down in the near future.

The External Affairs Ministry said that those attacking Sri Lanka on the human rights front had conveniently forgotten the successful post-war rehabilitation process. External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris told The Island that Sri Lanka’s rehabilitation process was proof of the government’s commitment to national reconciliation. Minister Peiris emphasized that the completion of rehabilitation process within three years after the conclusion of the conflict was a tremendous and unprecedented achievement. The Minister said that Sri Lanka had been releasing LTTE cadres, whereas those pushing the government of Sri Lanka to do away with anti-terrorism laws here, were going all out against their targets.

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