The prisoners who have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) have expressed their disapproval to Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran’s proposal to categorize them according to their offences.
It is reported that these prisoners who started a fast unto death have expressed their disapproval to Vigneswaran’s proposal to President Maithripala Sirisena, to categorize the prisoners according to the offences in respect of which they have been taken into custody and provide either a general amnesty or immediate bail to all detainees suspected of committing minor offences.
The Chief Minister writing to President Sirisena urged that speedy action be taken on Tamil prisoners languishing in jail for a long period. He noted that Tamil prisoners were holding a fast to register their protest at their prolonged imprisonment.
“The problem is a human issue that should be dealt with compassion and empathy, given the number of years that these unfortunate human beings have been kept incarcerated without trial. They would be satisfied if they are given the assurance that steps would be taken in respect of their cases within a specified period of time.
“I hope you would take some urgent measures in this regard to prevent the fast and instead assure those affected that their plight is being considered with compassion,” the letter stated.
Vigneswaran in his letter has proposed to categorize the prisoners according to their offenses in respect of which have been taken into custody, and provide either general amnesty or immediate bail to all detainees who are suspected of committing minor offenses.
He has also requested to release on adequate bail all prisoners detained under the PTA for whom cases have not been filed.
“Urgent directions should be given to the Attorney General’s Department and Police to file indictments within a specified period of time. Those charged under the PTA, but whose cases have not been taken up for trail or are pending, where the only evidence against them is a so called confession could be released on bail. The cases which have already begun and evidence are available must be finished on a priority basis by expediting their hearing,” Vigneswaran’s letter further stated.
Meanwhile, Commissioner General of Prisons Rohana Pushpakumara said the attention of President Maithripala Sirisena was drawn to the request of the prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) that they be granted general amnesty
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, he said the prison inmates detained under the PTA were continuing their hunger strike yesterday for the second day. He said he had discussions with the Secretary to the President, the relevant Minister and Ministry Secretary over the matters raised by the prison inmates.
“The message was communicated to the President through them and we are waiting his response,” he commented.
He said about 150 Tamil prisoners detained under the PTA over alleged links with the LTTE have joined in the sathyagraha. According to him, there are about 201 inmates including four women detained under the PTA at the Magazine Prison in Colombo, Anuradhapura Prison and several other prisons across the country.
These prisoners handed over a letter signed by them to Pushpakumara on Monday to be handed over to the President seeking their release. Pushpakumara said the letter was forwarded to the President.
According to the Prison Department, about 100 detainees are at the Colombo Magazine Prison while 30 are at the Anuradhapura prison. The others are detained at the Welikada, Bogambara, Trincomalee, Kalutara, Batticaloa, Badulla, Galle, Jaffna, Polonnaruwa and Moneragala Prisons.
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