Eight Tamil inmates in Sri Lanka were given amnesty on Monday by President Ranil Wickremesinghe after each served more than ten years in prison for their claimed ties to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
According to a presidential statement, Tamil legislators’ involvement led to the pardon being issued under section 34 of the Constitution.
Three of the eight inmates had been found guilty of trying to kill former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. It said President Kumaratunga, who served as president from 1994 to 2005, had approved their pardoning.
Two of those pardoned have consented to abandon their court of appeals lawsuit.
Three of the prisoners had served 22 of their 30-year sentences in prison, two had served 14 years over a 5-year penalty, and one had served 14 years in prison despite receiving an 11-year sentence.
According to the statement, one prisoner had served 14 years of a 5-year sentence, and another had served 14 years of an 11-year term.
The release of Tamil detainees who are thought to have been linked to the LTTE’s operations has been a priority for Tamil political parties and rights organizations.
As a result of excessive delays in the judicial system, they have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for an extended period of time.
International pressure is mounting on Sri Lanka to revoke the PTA. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution suspending the EU’s preferred tax breaks for exports from Sri Lanka until the PTA was repealed.
The government has assured the EU that it will not hold anybody in custody using the PTA.
Before crumbling in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran with the Sri Lankan military victory, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) waged a violent struggle for a separate Tamil homeland in the island nation’s northern and eastern districts for over 30 years.