Government insists no Tamil political prisoners in Sri Lanka

The Government today insisted that there were no Tamil political prisoners in Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the weekly post Cabinet media briefing, Cabinet co-spokesman Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that there are no political prisoners in Sri Lanka.

He said that those arrested in the North and East are detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on terrorism charges, and cannot be deemed as political prisoners.

Prisoners in Sri Lanka are convicted based on the crimes that they have committed and not based on their race, he said.

Minister Gammanpila made the statements in response to a question raised by a reporter, on whether political prisoners from the North and East are included in the Government’s plan to reduce the sentencing or release certain prisoners.

The Government announced yesterday that prisoners on death row are to be freed after serving 20 years in jail, in order to reduce congestion in prisons in Sri Lanka.

Commenting on the decision, Minister Gammanpila said that a program was introduced to review the sentences of prisoners once in four years based on reports provided by the Prisons Department.

Under this program, the sentences of prisoners were reduced or they were released. However, this program was l suspended by the former Government, and as a result, the current Government has decided to reintroduce it.

Minister Gammanpila further clarified that the reduction in prison sentences will only be considered for those convicted of drug offences, such as possession and addiction.

He said this will not be applied to inmates convicted of conducting drug operations in the country. (Colombo Gazette)

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