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Sri Lankan President grants amnesty; Over 1,000 prisoners released to celebrate Christmas

  • Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe grants amnesty, releasing over 1,000 convicts to mark Christmas
  • The majority of the freed prisoners were individuals unable to pay outstanding fines
  • The amnesty follows a recent anti-narcotics drive, resulting in the arrest of nearly 15,000 individuals

25 Dec 2023

In the spirit of Christmas, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has extended amnesty to more than 1,000 convicts, leading to their release from jails across the country, according to a statement by Prison Commissioner Gamini Dissanayake on Monday.

The majority of those freed were Sri Lankans imprisoned due to an inability to pay outstanding fines. This gesture follows a similar move in May, where an equivalent number of prisoners were granted amnesty to celebrate the Buddhist holiday of Vesak, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.

The decision to release prisoners comes on the heels of a military-backed anti-narcotics drive that resulted in the arrest of nearly 15,000 individuals. However, the weeklong operation was halted on the eve of Christmas. The police statement reported that 13,666 suspects were arrested, and nearly 1,100 addicts were sent for compulsory rehabilitation at a military-run facility.

The release of prisoners aims to alleviate chronic overcrowding in Sri Lanka's jails, where facilities designed for 11,000 inmates currently house nearly 30,000 individuals as of Friday.

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