The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to grant clemency or relief to political prisoners.
In a letter addressed to the President, former TNA parliamentarian Senathirajah said there are Tamil political prisoners held in prisons of Sri Lanka, taken into custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and or under emergency regulations and are being held for a period ranging from 10 to 24 years.
Senathirajah, who also the Leader of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), pointed out that these political prisoners fall into four categories.
Persons convicted by Courts and serving their prison sentence.
Persons who are indicated and continue to be held pending conclusions of trials.
Persons (suspects) taken into custody on suspicious circumstances and held under protective custody but not being charged up to now.
Held in prisons under detention orders and or Criminal Investigation Department.
Mavai Senathirajah further highlighted that some prisoners or suspects held in prisons have been infected with the coronavirus and others are facing an imminent danger of being infected and the virus further spreading among them.
The restriction imposed on visitors at prisons across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak is resulting in the prisoners being subject to severe mental pain and stress.
In foreign countries, prisoners under detention for a long time of period are temporarily released by the order of Courts and continue to be under detention at their homes, while some prisoners are bailed out or set free subjected to conditions dictated by Courts, he explained.
Mavai Senathirajah called on the President to consider the plight of the prisoners humanly by paying attention to their mental conditions and their basic human rights under the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
He urged the President to grant relief to the prisoners such as releasing them on bail or similar to the measures taken in other coronavirus affected countries until a final decision is taken on them in terms of their charges. (Colombo Gazette)