P O Box 5292 Brandon Park Victoria 3150 AUSTRALIA
29th November 2022
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Call for the release of all political prisoners in Sri Lanka
We congratulate you on becoming the President of our country in a crucial situation.
All peace-loving citizens of our beloved country welcomed your magnanimous gesture of releasing six long-held political prisoners. Sadly, there are still hundreds who have been held in prison for many years without being charged in a court of law.
These persons are held in custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Law irrespective of whether they have been convicted, have been charged, or have not yet been charged. They have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Law and all action taken against them has been in terms of that Law.
It has been accepted by the Sri Lankan State both domestically and internationally that, the said Prevention of Terrorism Law is draconian, obnoxious, and should therefore be regarded as obsolete. The Sri Lankan State has made several commitments both domestically and internationally that the said Law will be repealed, and that a new Law will be enacted in keeping with acceptable domestic and international norms.
The Sri Lankan State is yet to fulfill this commitment, but that does not derogate from the Sri Lanka State’s commitment that the said Law should not remain in the Statute Book.
The only evidence available against most of these persons are confessions extracted from them against their will under the Prevention of Terrorism Law which would be inadmissible against them in a normal Court of Law. Many of the cases have been postponed because the Prosecution is not ready to proceed with the Cases.
Almost all of them have been in custody for very long periods, for as long as, they would have been sentenced if the sentence was passed on them shortly after being taken into custody.
The families of these persons in custody have suffered for very long periods, without the support of their breadwinners. This vitally important factor has not been given due consideration.
Quite apart from the pernicious nature of the Prevention of Terrorism Law. Persons in similar situations such as persons taken into custody during the insurrections of the J.V. P have been granted an Amnesty and released. It is not understood why the same principle cannot be applied to these prisoners.
These cases cannot be considered as coming purely under the purview of the Attorney General’s Department. With due respect to the Hon. Attorney General as the Chief Legal Adviser of the State, these cases have a certain political dimension and cannot be addressed as a purely legal issue. It can be justifiably stated that if Sri Lanka’s national question had been reasonably addressed in time, many of the persons in custody, would not have been in their present position and would have been useful citizens. This circumstance makes it obligatory that you address this issue politically too. The issue of not being addressed politically is a strong impediment to reconciliation and the restoration of goodwill and harmony.
We the undersigned very strongly urge all these Prisoners to be released without any further delay.