28 November, 2020

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Release All Political Prisoners As Promised: Tamil Lawyers Forum Tells President

The Tamil Lawyers Forum has today urged President Maithripala Sirisena to give effect to his promise to release all political prisoners forthwith and to act directly without intermediaries in the matter to salvage the goodwill and hope entertained by people who helped elect the President and the new government that promised to usher in a new era and reconciliation.

Maithripala 14 July Pic sent by Prez MdiaIssuing a statement the Tamil Lawyers Forum said; “It is no complex problem as the President and the Government have only to make a policy decision and communicate with the AG for legal procedures to unfold, resulting in the resolution of this festering problem. What is needed is only the political will devoid of chauvinist blinkers. The AG on previous occasions had exercised his authority to withdraw prosecution and enter nolle prosequi in favour of high profile persons alleged with heinous crimes of rape and murder . This is an opportunity for the AG to prove that he is even- handed in taking such decisions to benefit the “commoners” and people without influence.”

We publish below the statement in full;

STATEMENT BY THE TAMIL LAWYERS FORUM ON TAMIL POLITICAL PRISONERS

Following the failure of President Maithripala Sirisena to resolve the issue of the Tamil political prisoners before the 7th of November 2015 as promised, the inmates have resumed their fast unto death.

Even the promise that 32 inmates will be released on Monday the 9th November was not honoured. This does not come as a surprise to many. The familiar pattern of unwillingness, intransigence, vacillation and reneging on promises by the Sri Lankan state and politicians vis a vis ethnicity related issues is only too well known.

What the Tamil political detainees demand is that they be treated in the same manner by which the Southern Sinhala rebels were treated in 1971 and 1989. Southern youth were sent in for rehabilitation and were swiftly released by courts within short time from their incarceration. The offence was the same — rebellion and conspiracy to commit offences against the State. Tamil political detainees were however, treated differently due to the entrenched and systemic discriminatory policy practiced by the Sri Lankan state towards its Tamils citizens. When Tamil political prisoners demand that they be released, they are not begging for pardon per se based on sympathy but as of right in that they are entitled to equal treatment which is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right. They were not tried under normal laws of the land but were arrested and tried under special laws which took away their right to fair trial and other legal safeguards that normal laws offer. The so called confessions( not admissible under ordinary law),no doubt obtained by police brutality, torture and duress were the basis of 90% of the cases filed by the Attorney General (AG) against the Tamil political prisoners. Time served awaiting trial and verdict itself amounted to punishment without trial, as happened in a recent case in which the trial took 16 years to conclude with over 400 visits to court on hearing dates, ending up being sentenced by the High Court of Colombo to 30 years hard labour in prison.

They demand a uniform decision that all political prisoners be unconditionally released, not merely to be enlarged on bail or divided into segments. Tamil Lawyers Forum (TLF) solidly endorses the demand of the political detainees and calls upon the President and the Government to honor their earlier promise to resolve this long drawn out issue by releasing all political prisoners unconditionally.

The TLF urges the President and the government to seriously consider the release of all political prisoners under whatever category they may be classified.

1. Prisoners arrested under PTA / Emergency laws but not yet charged or indicted in the High Court could be discharged by sanction of the AG at any time.

2. Prisoners already indicted in High Court and facing trial could be discharged by direction of the AG to withdraw prosecution acting under Chapter XVIII of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979.

3. The President may exercise his powers under Article 34 and grant Presidential pardon to those who had been convicted by the Courts of Law.

It is no complex problem as the President and the Government have only to make a policy decision and communicate with the AG for legal procedures to unfold, resulting in the resolution of this festering problem. What is needed is only the political will devoid of chauvinist blinkers. The AG on previous occasions had exercised his authority to withdraw prosecution and enter nolle prosequi in favour of high profile persons alleged with heinous crimes of rape and murder . This is an opportunity for the AG to prove that he is even- handed in taking such decisions to benefit the “commoners” and people without influence.

Tamil Lawyers Forum further requests the President to give effect to his promise to release all political prisoners forthwith and to act directly without intermediaries in the matter to salvage the goodwill and hope entertained by people who helped elect the President and the new government that promised to usher in a new era and reconciliation.

Convenors , Tamil Lawyers Forum:
K.S.Ratnavale
G.Rajagulendra
V.Puvitharan
B.N.Thamboo
V.S.Niranchan

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    President Maithripala Sirisena

    RE: Release All Political Prisoners As Promised: Tamil Lawyers Forum Tells President.

    Political Prisners- Yes.

    Criminals, Murders, Rapists, killers and Ethnic Cleansers- No. No and No.

  • 7
    2

    I have no reason for not supporting the demand for the request of those Tamils who are held in illegal custody unreasonably without being charged of any offence by he government.
    But I cannot see any sense when the demand for their release is made by a body called Tamil Lawyers Forum formed for that purpose and why the call is being not made by the BASL itself which is the man body that includes all practising lawyers in SL.
    It there is a Tamil Lawyers Forum, then inevitably there will be a Sinhalese Lawyers Form and even a Muslim Lawyers Forum in future. Then is the any purpose for the BASL, to exist and at that rate?
    if lawyers are going to divide themselves up on racial and religious line will there be any hope for the future of the legal profession and the practise of law in the country and what hope is their for reconciliation and progress for the country as a whole?

    • 3
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      The BASL is the most effete and feckless body of professionals in this country. Very few of its members care two hoots about the Tamil political prisoners, with many of them even denying that there is such a class of prisoners. This is the reason why the need for a Tamil Lawyers Forum has arisen.

      Most of its members are not keen on legal reforms. If anything, they want the system and the procedures to be made more unwieldy so that they will be able to make more money from their hapless, captive clients.

    • 5
      0

      This is because the BASL high-ups do not want to meddle with an issue that favours
      Tamils – the BASL President is lying low to keep his position tight! Typical Sri
      Lankan politics.

  • 4
    0

    This is the result when the head is a lame duck!

  • 5
    0

    Over thousands of Tamils been detained and some are tortured in Army held torture camps. Journalist Ehaliyagoda was abducted, tortured, detained in a Army held torture camp and his body was later dumped in the sea. The Govt. should immediately release these Tamil youths and hand them over to the UN representatives to avoid any deaths from their hunger strike. Some detainees been held for over 15 years without any charges.

  • 3
    0

    “………………………………that they be treated in the same manner by which Southern Sinhala rebels were treated in 1971 and 1989.

    This is a reasonable request.

    Justice should be uniform, and should not be distorted by circumstances, ethnicity of accused persons, or political composition of governments in power.

    What the Sinhala youth segments of JVP did to politicians, lawyers, police, army and even Buddhist clergy in 1971 & 1988/89, is well known.
    Many of the JVP youth were slaughtered by the armed forces and police, and the remnants were released by courts subsequently, from incarceration.
    Same or similar situation applies now.

  • 3
    0

    The shame of the Sinhala State Apparatus continues. Incarcerating persons without charge is a crime committed by the state.

    Sirisena’s government must charge them or release them. Holding them in the pitiable cells just because they are Tamils is racism of the most onerous kind. After so many years if the state could not come up with real evidence (as against trumped up evidence) these unfortunates should be released and released now.

    What defies logic is that terrorists with direct involvement in mass killings such as Karuna, Daya Master and KP are walking free (not to mention GOTA and his ilk also being free) and these 300 or so Tamils held in custody can’t surely be worse than them.

    • 3
      0

      The Govt. should pay compensation for those held without any charges for over 10 years. These Tamil youths been arrested and tortured by the Sri Lankan Army because they are Tamils and no other reasons.

      • 2
        0

        The JVP Terrorists were released after the war was over without any conditions. Wimal Weerawansa – Somawansa Amerasinghe etc. Wimal Weerawansa held a post as a minister in the MR Govt.

        Why these Tamil Youths are held over 10 to 15 years without any charges.

  • 1
    0

    “1. Prisoners arrested under PTA / Emergency laws but not yet charged or indicted in the High Court could be discharged by sanction of the AG at any time.”

    Maybe yes but does this not mean that politicians interfere with the AGs Dept (and police) that is supposed to be independent?

    “2. Prisoners already indicted in High Court and facing trial could be discharged by direction of the AG to withdraw prosecution acting under Chapter XVIII of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979.”

    Maybe yes but is this not political interference with the AGs Dept and is the decision to release not taken by a judge supposed to be independent?

    “3. The President may exercise his powers under Article 34 and grant Presidential pardon to those who had been convicted by the Courts of Law.”

    Yes indeed. Here there is no political interference because this is a decision a politician can make alone. Our President can pardon the 40 LTTE convicts if he wants to. I very much would like to see him openly pardoning these LTTE convicts using his powers instead of interfering with the police, courts and AGs Dept.

    Now the Human Rights Comission will become active against the political interference.

    “Chairperson of the newly constituted Human Rights Commission (HRC) Dr. Deepika Udagama yesterday assured that she would certainly look into the Attorney General’s Department.

    Addressing the media at the HRC head office at Kynsey Road, Borella, Dr. Udagama stressed the importance of protecting the independence of the AG’s Department, the judiciary and the police.”

    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=135461

  • 0
    0

    This article has something to do with Tamils. So I am wondering where that low life pariah Eusense the Nuisance?

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