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Friday, March 1, 2024

Tamil detainees should be released – CJ

By Saroj Pathirana

The Attorney General (AG) and the police have been ordered to release all Tamils in custody for longer periods without charges says Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice (CJ).

CJ Asoka de Silva said he has taken measures to provide relief to the Tamil detainees during his two-year tenure in the office.

“We have considered and offered relief whenever an application has been lodged seeking bail for Tamil detainees in custody for long periods or who have being detained unconstitutionally,” he said.

“In addition I have ordered the AG to provide with a report of those who have been detained for long periods.”

The AG’s report submitted to the courts, said Mr de Silva, shows that many suspects are in detention on charges of serious offences such as murder.

“Not all of them are connected to the war,” he said.

Human rights groups including the Committee for the Investigation of Disappearances (CID) says that some Tamil detainees are kept in detention for nearly 15 years.

 We don’t encourage the AG or the police to keep suspects in custody without being charged

There are some more detainees, according to the CJ, whose cases are still being investigated.

“Once released investigations can be continued and arrests can be made if new evidence is found,” he added.

“We don’t encourage the AG or the police to keep suspects in custody without being charged.”

The CJ earlier said the AG was wrong to withdraw charges against government politicians if there was evidence.

He was commenting on AG Mohan Peiris withdrawing murder charges against former parliamentarian Chandana Kathriarachchi and child rape charges against Colombo district MP, Duminda Silva.

Sarath Fonseka (file photo)
CJ says it is imperative for any investigative body to keep notes and records

However, it is for the AG to explain why he withdrew the charges, according to CJ Asoka de Silva.

In a series of interviews with BBC Sandeshaya, the CJ also defended the Supreme Court verdict that found court martial a competent court.

But he said that it is imperative for any investigative body, let alone courts, to keep notes and records.

CJ de Silva was commenting on the military court, that found former army commander Sarath Fonseka guilty, informing Colombo High Court that it did not keep records of the court proceedings.

“Not only courts, but any investigation needs to have its notes. If not, that does not become an investigation,” said Mr de Silva.

The outgoing CJ added that he was working on to improve the judicial services to the war-affected north and east during his two-year tenure.
BBC Sinhala service



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