Sri Lanka legalises detention for 'deradicalisation'

WION Web Team
Colombo, Sri Lanka Published: Mar 13, 2021, 06:39 PM(IST)

Sri Lankan flag Photograph:( PTI )

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These rules have been set up under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has been a topic of debate for a long time from local and international rights groups

Sri Lanka has legalised using controversial anti-terror law to punish people indulging in religious extremism and has also allowed detainment of suspects for two years on charges of "deradicalisation".

On Saturday, Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared regulations allowing the government officials to detain anyone suspected of carrying out "acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities".

In addition to this, the government has also announced plans to permanently ban the burqa for women, which has been a major update since a temporary ban was imposed on burqas in April 2019.

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These rules have been set up under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has been a topic of debate for a long time from local and international rights groups.

While the previous Sri Lankan government had pledged to repeal the controversial PTA, Rajapaksa had promised to battle Islamic extremism. He has now announced the "deradicalisation from holding violent extremist religious ideology" measures in a notification, accessed by news agency AFP.

The decision to ban the burqa has been announced after a deadly bomb attack blamed on local jihadists highlighted the issue. Now, Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekera has announced plans to soon ban the burqa saying, "the burqa is something that directly affects our national security. This (dress) came into Sri Lanka only recently. It is a symbol of their religious extremism."

Weerasekera has claimed that he has already signed documents asking for a ban on burqa, but the law needs approval from cabinet ministers and parliament.

These rules carry the risk of further creating differences in the already-sore relationship of Sri Lanka's minority Muslims and majority Buddhists, since the 2019 bombings.

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