Sri Lanka president pardons over 1,000 inmates on Christmas News
Sri Lanka president pardons over 1,000 inmates on Christmas

Sri Lankan Prison Commissioner Gamini Dissanayake announced earlier this week that President Ranil Wickremesinghe pardoned over 1,000 prisoners because of the Christmas holiday. The exact number released was 1,004, comprising 989 men and 15 women. A majority of those who were pardoned by the president Sunday were those accused of being unable to pay outstanding fines. President Wickremesinghe issued a statement urging Sri Lankans to “unite in shouldering their responsibilities” and recognizing the adversities of their nation. 

The president has the power to grant pardons to Sri Lankan subjects under Article 34 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, though there are limits and guidelines to how they may proceed with the matter. These pardons come at a time where Sri Lanka is attempting to reconcile its people in the aftermath of the civil war, with an independent commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation being announced earlier in December.

Other criticisms levied against the Sri Lankan government include lack of judicial independence and corruption. Furthermore, in a report published by the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka, prisoners complained about mistreatment and abuse from officials, along with a lack of resources. Prisons are also overcrowded. The prison system in Sri Lanka is built to house approximately 13,000 prisoners, but there are currently over 30,000 inmates. Over 200 remandees are contained in a cell in one of Sri Lanka’s largest prisons. This year’s pardon comes at a time when the nation is considering alternative forms of penal punishment, like house arrest, in order to combat their overcrowding problems.