BUREAU OF THE COMMISSIONER GENERAL OF REHABILITATION
"MINISTRY OF PRISON REFORMS,REHABILITATION, RESETTLEMENT AND HINDU RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS"

Introduction

The government of Sri Lanka headed by HE the President who is guided by the Buddhist principles of forgiveness and compassion knowing the value of human life,thought that, as the terrorists are human beings whose minds were distorted, and hence misguided, could be reformed and could be rehabilitated to enlist their services as useful citizens of the country. For this purpose, he sought the assistance of the very Security Forces which led a humanitarian war against the terrorists.

In contrast, in other countries where terrorists had been active and when they were detected and captured they were summarily killed as they work on the presumption that they cannot be reformed and rehabilitated.In order to ensure their destruction, they were shot on the head leaving no chance of survival. Apart from human considerations, Sri Lanka cannot aff ord to loose the lives of valuable human beings as Sri Lanka is increasing its population at a decreasing rate.

This is the success story of rehabilitating the diehard ruthless terrorists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Government of Sri Lanka with the assistance of the Security Forces led by the Sri Lanka Army and to re-amalgamate them to the society as useful and productive citizens.

The pluralistic society of Sri Lanka consisting predominantly of Sinhalese along with Tamils and Muslims have had harmonious and cordial relations with one other for many centuries. However, the past three decades have pushed the very same people to live amidst dangerous experiences of a brutal war instigated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lankans in the North and the South encompassing all races, religions and communities suff ered from the brutalities of the LTTE for 30 long years. Further, the LTTE recognised as the most ruthless and organized terrorist organization in the world hindered the nation's progress for almost three decades.

However, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces militarily defeated the LTTE by May 2009 and eradicated terrorism from Sri Lanka. Thereafter one of the world's largest rescue operations in living memory was launched with a strategy to ensure that the people of the country will no longer experience the horrors of brutal death, destruction and desolation and instead establish a future of hope, prosperity, peace and reconciliation.

When the Security Forces commenced the humanitarian operation to liberate innocent civilians in the North and the East who were held virtually hostage by the LTTE, a parallel operation was launched to ensure the safety of civilians who were either rescued or who escaped from the LTTE.

In particular during the latter stages of the war, the government realized that winning the confidence of the refugees was important to attract them into the areas held by the Security Forces, so that they would come without any fear, "No Fire Zones" were declared, to ensure the safety of the civilian refugees. The areas in which civilians were concentrated were spotted through UAV images, and precautions were taken to avoid such areas for ground and air assaults.

In addition, the government machinery was financed and actively maintained even in the then un-cleared areas during the height of the war, despite the fact that the government was aware that most of the supplies meant for the civilians would be plundered by the LTTE. The public was kept informed of the entry points to the "No Fire Zones" through leaflets, by public address systems and other means.

The Continuation of viable civil and military coordination, immediate casualty response, evacuation to hospitals and preparation of secure villages with health and other basic facilities to shelter Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), gave hope to civilians for a new life in a safe and a secure environment. All declared entry points were secured and front line soldiers were instructed to receive the civilian surrendees with respect and care.

In addition, a considerable number of safe passages were made available for the people to reach the government controlled areas. As the civilians approached the government-controlled areas, every refugee was given a bottle of mineral water at the entry point followed up with immediate medical attention.

All arrangements were made to establish transit centers close to every entry point with medical, food, water, sanitation facilitates and clothes.

Simultaneously arrangements were made to air-lift critically ill and wounded people to hospitals together with special medical attention. People who came from the LTTE held areas were accompanied to the registration centers, with the ICRC and other UN agencies including UNHCR, assisting the registration of persons.

In keeping with international norms and regulations, separation of ex-combatants from the civilians was mandatory. Hence, the Security Forces requested all ex-combatants to report to designated centers in the presence of the ICRC. Thereafter a large number of ex-combatants willingly reported for rehabilitation placing complete confidence in the Security Forces.

Twenty four (24) Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centers were established at the initial stages and made functional separately for children, females and males. In accordance with international norms, statements and letters of consent were obtained from the surrendee ex-combatants for follow-up of the rehabilitation programme.

Rehabilitation commenced with the Sri Lankan Forces laying down their arms to take up a different role quenched the thirst. They fed the hungry, nursed the wounded, carried the elders and the disabled, traced the relatives of people who had undergone untold suffering. They also brought back to their parents, children who up to then had worn the cyanide capsule and carried a gun.

Establishment

Sri Lanka's multifaceted and multiagency rehabilitation program was started precisely 12,000 Ex- Combatants who were surrender to the Sri Lankan Government (GoSL) for their safety. GoSL was ready to accept them, keep them in protective centres from the Govt Gazette Notification No 1462/8 published in 12th day of the September 2006.

The challenge of the rehabilitation of these Ex - Combatants was the prime task of the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (BCGR). The bureau was set up under the guidance of Ministry of Defence, in initially with the Ministry of Justice. The Bureau is under the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms since 30th April, 2010 with the Gazette notification of 30.04.2010.

Appointment of the Commissioner Generals of Rehabilitation

In accordance with the gazette notification 1496/9 of 2006, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms, Suhada K Gamlath, was appointed as the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (CGR), and in accordance with the gazette notification 1611/29 of 2009, Major General R.M.D. Rathnayake RWP, RSP, USP, ndu, psc was appointed CGR and took over office on the 7th of August 2009. He was succeeded by Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, RWP, RSP, psc as Commissioner General of Rehabilitation with effect from January 31, 2010. (Gazette notification 1652/58 of May 06, 2010). He was succeeded by Major General LWCBB Rajaguru, RWP, RSP,USP,Ldmc as Commissioner General of Rehabilitation with effect from August 15, 2011. He was succeeded by Brigadier, DDUK Hettiarrachchi RSP,USP,psc as Commissioner General of Rehabilitation with effect from February 23, 2012.The Bureau is now under the purview of Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms since 30th April 2010. (Gazette notification of 30.04.2010).

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VISION

Towards National Reconciliation, Peace, Prosperity and a Law Abiding Society.

MISSION

Rehabilitation of misguided men, women, children adopting varying therapies in order to ensure effective Reintegration and Reconciliation, through developing Socio - Economic standards having identified their Rights and Cultural values.

The Challenges

The existing imbalance of Conceptual, Physical and Moral facets of the rehabilitees was a challenge prior to the implementation of the 4R process and achieving desired results. The issues listed below were terrorist leadership took advantage to remould susceptible individuals.

a. Distorted Moral and Social Values.

b. Indifferent perceptions of different Communities.

c. Disintegrated Social Fabric.

d. Unresolved issues related to Fundamental Rights and Implied deprivation.

e. Falsified/ misleading connotation of facts including distorted history.

f. Brain Washing carried out by LTTE leadership with False Information.

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Identification

The importance of Rehabilitating and Rebuilding through corrective action was identified.

a. Identify the challenges having given rehab process its highest priority.

b. Set Goals within a conceptualized Framework, Coordinated and integrated efforts of all line ministries Government institutions and comprehensive and collective outside support.

c. Formulate policies and Legal Frame work to facilitate meeting the set Goals.

d. Create Institutions to implement Policies;

(1). Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation with the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms taking the lead role together with other line ministries.

(2). Rehabilitation Authority for follow up action after reintegration to ensure and support for a better socio- economic standard of rehabilitees.

Action Plan

The action plan was set up primarily based on the Sri Lankan context, with drawing on lessons learnt from International best practices and International Legal Principles and Precedents The mandate vested upon the Commissioner General for Rehabilitation (CGR) and the BCGR and Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industrial Authority (RAPPIA).

Goals

a. To safeguard the human rights of rehabs, victims due to terrorist action and host communities, including the responsibility to protect and assist them in accordance with the constitution of the country and State's international obligations.

b. To contribute towards sustainable peace, Reconciliation and Social cohesion and well being.

c. To enhance the employability of rehabilitees, minimize their risk of socio-economic marginalization and utilize their underutilized knowledge and skills to create opportunities for Economic Revitalization in post-conflict development efforts.

d. To inculcate the values and requirement of Family Culture attitude and preserve next generation of community through proper education, instill values and norms and to create a discipline society.

Rehabilitation Process

The six pillar Rehabilitation process, which the rehabilitation was designed on, is geared to bring back these essential components into the lives of beneficiaries, who were held within a narrow 'hate filled ideology' as members, helpers and combatants of the terrorist organization.

a. Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Rehabilitation

b. Educational Rehabilitation

c. Vocational Rehabilitation running at livelihood development

d. Family, Social and Community Rehabilitation

e. Psychological and Creative Therapies Rehabilitation

f. Sports and Extracurricular activities.

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Expenditure For Rehabilitation As At September 2013

Total of Rs. 1,316.63 Billion has been spent on entire rehabilitation process so far. This amount is excluding the expenditure of pay and allowances, rations, transportation and other essential expenditures.

Way Forward

The Bureau of Commissioner General of Rehabilitation intends to launch a programme involving a 'Family Cover' during the period of Rehabilitation of the Bread Winner.This includes;

a. An income generating Micro Economic Project for NOK or financial assistance to facilitate a project.

b. A Scholarship programme for children of the rehabilitee.

c. A land and a hard shelter.

d. A Food Pack for low income families, provided through Ministry of Social Services.

e. 'Pay for Work' programme.

Conclusion

Rehabilitation efforts implemented and it's practicality is well proven, when look at the successes gained within a very short time span. Out of approximately twelve thousand surrendered willingly and who opted for rehabilitation, over 11600 have been rehabilitated and reintegrated to the society. Many have been given in marriage and 594 child soldiers have been reunited with their families. They are now into higher education, permanent employment and contributing to National Economy, whilst enjoying and living in peaceful environment in their original Habitats with kith and kin.

They have met their siblings, relatives and friends after decades from separation and now, move about freely in day and night. Moreover, their minds are free to build a new family life, with a bright future ahead. Children show cases their academic and social talents in the schools as well as outdoors.

They witness a society free from Gun Culture, Suicide menace and violence. This hard earned peace which is gifted to them by the GOSL is well received and the value of it is undoubtedly well conceived. The bitter past, they refuse to talk of. They are very much into the future.

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