The President pardoned 16 men because the island nation faces pressure from the United Nations to detain acquittal under the anti-terrorism law.
The President of Sri Lanka pardoned 16 people associated with the Tamil Tiger insurgents because the island nation is facing new pressure from the United Nations for uncharged detention under the anti-terrorism law.
Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power on a nationalist agenda in 2019, Thursday’s pardon is the first pardon for those connected to the Tigers, and it includes a promise not to prosecute repressive insurgents Of the army.
These people are convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which gives security forces broad powers to arrest and detain suspects. The UN Human Rights Council and other international human rights organizations have called for its abolition.
“The 16 Tamil detainees are one of the 94 prisoners who have been pardoned by the President,” warden Chandana Ekanayake said of the release of Poson on the Buddhist festival.
He added that these people have been detained for at least ten years.
Government officials stated that this release is the first phase of a plan to release all persons held or charged under the PTA.
Political sources in the Tamil community told AFP that another 78 people were arrested in accordance with the law for supporting the separatist Tamil Tigers, and they have been detained for decades.
The president’s nephew, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son and legislator Namar Rajapaksa told parliament this week that some of the imprisoned persons had been in prison before his birth in 1986.
He added that his government is working to release them. The law allows suspects to be held for long periods of time without charges.
The UN Human Rights Council last week urged the government to prosecute or release people detained under the PTA, including recently arrested human rights activists.
Critics have warned that the law is being used as a weapon against dissidents and ethnic minorities in this divided country.
The Tigers were crushed during an unrestricted military operation that ended in May 2009.
International human rights organizations call on Sri Lanka to ensure responsibility for the atrocities that allegedly killed thousands of civilians during the final phase of the 37-year separatist war.
The military denied these allegations, and the Rajapaksa government criticized the criticism as politically motivated.