Sri Lanka success story on rehabilitation

Sri Lanka s success in rehabilitating former terrorists would make it the best model for other countries which face similar conflicts and also in the rehabilitation of ex-cadre, said the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, Brigadier Darshana Hettiarachchi.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, he said Nearly 11,000 ex-tigers are back with their families and living peacefully. Only a handful of incidents, where ex-LTTE cadre had been involved, were reported from the East for the past three years and thousands of them who were known as members of the world s most ruthless terrorist outfit are now living peacefully. Isn’t it a great story? , he asked.

But Brig. Hettiarachchi said the Tamil Diaspora could contribute meaningfully to help these youth lead better lives by creating employment and educational opportunities for them.

It is sad to note that nothing significant is coming from them. I think it is the best time for them to invest in their future , he said adding that no force with vested interests or hidden agendas can mislead them to take up arms again as they want to live peacefully.

Meanwhile, he explained how his office took measures to unearth the true story of what happened to Kerbert Morino Leon Roxy, an ex-LTTE cadre who had been claimed to be missing.

His mother, Saroja Devi of Mullaitivu who processed a picture of the youth, had complained that her son went missing after a reintegration ceremony held in Colombo, to release over 1,000 rehabilitated ex-cadre.

We traced the mother and showed her the pictures and videos which were taken at the ceremony. We wanted to clear her doubts.

After scanning all the pictures carefully, she said the youth whom she claimed was her son was mistakenly identified , Brig. Hettiarachchi said.

He said his office was taking steps to trace her son to find if he had surrendered during the end-battle and is undergoing rehabilitation.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: Out of over 11,600, there are only 698 ex-LTTE cadre still under rehabilitation. Can you give a time frame for their release?

A: They were sent for rehabilitation on Court orders and they will be here for a year with effect from the date they came to the rehabilitation centres. It is difficult to give a particular date or time frame to release them all. Each ex-LTTE cadre who is sent for rehabilitation has to undergo rehabilitation for a year.


Q: Once the number is reduced to zero, will the tasks and responsibilities of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation be over?

A: We have designed a mechanism to monitor the progress of those who have reintegrated into society. We plan to monitor their post-rehabilitation, to restore their livelihood and explore employment opportunities. This is to ensure that once they are released, they lead normal lives as useful citizens and make their contribution towards the development of the country.

Q: Livelihood restoration is one main area that will assist them to stand on their own feet. What are the plans you have to help them in this regard in the post-rehabilitation process?

A: The Government has already allocated Rs. 300 million to grant loans with a maximum of Rs. 250,000 at only four percent interest. We are in the process of selecting suitable candidates.

Another step is exploring foreign employment opportunities for them. We have already negotiated with the Foreign Employment Bureau to explore employment opportunities, especially in the Middle East and South Korea.

There is another project we are going to introduce to give them three-wheelers without a downpayment, so while earning, they can re-pay the instalments.

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