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Sri Lanka – No common amnesty to Tamil prisoners but bail procedure will be expedited – Minister

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Oct 27, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government on Monday has decided not to grant a common amnesty to the Tamil prisoners in the island’s jails but to expedite the bail procedures for a section of the Tamil prisoners.

The government has taken this decision at a high level meeting attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Law and Order and Prison Reforms Thilak Marapana, Minister of National Dialogue Mano Ganesan and Minister of Rehabilitation and Resettlement D.M. Swaminathan on Monday.

Some 200 Tamil prisoners at the main prison in Colombo earlier this month launched a hunger strike demanding their release and later Tamil prisoners in other jails also joined the protest. The prisoners went on a six-day protest hunger strike demanding swift procedural action including a common amnesty.

The protesting inmates ended the strike following an assurance from President Maithripala Sirisena that action would be in place to grant them redress by November 7.

Addressing a media briefing today, Minister Mano Ganesan said there was a meeting held yesterday with the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and they decided that it was not possible to grant a common amnesty.

The 217 Tamil prisoners have been accused of involved in terrorist activities and held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act or Emergency laws. They are said to be in jails for varying periods ranging from five years to 15 years.

However, the Minister said the bail procedure could be expedited.

“Those who are having their cases and those under police action could be granted bail. The officials have been advised to look at this process,” Ganesan added.

Minister Marapana told The Hindu that steps would be taken to provide relief to those who were experiencing �long detention� and having �marginal charges.�

According to Tamil political leaders, at least 300 Tamil political prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act are in jails across the island.

Source: Lanka Page

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