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Thousands in detention - Amnesty

The human rights group Amnesty International has called on the President of Sri Lanka to release those it describes as “forgotten prisoners”

Families of the detained
Families still waiting the detainees to be charged or released

people it says have been detained without trial for years and who it says are numbered in the thousands, 1,900 of them officially confirmed.

Two years

It says sweeping emergency and anti-terror laws are still used to arrest people and should be scrapped. In a reaction a government MP has said that efforts are still afoot to revive the Tamil Tiger militants.

Two years after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers or LTTE, Amnesty International says that arrests of Tamil people are continuing.

 people it says have been detained without trial for years and who it says are numbered in the thousands, 1,900 of them officially confirmed

It says hundreds are detained each year on suspicion of being members or sympathisers of the defeated group; and alleges that many are tortured in custody.

Tortured in custody

It says they’re joining the ranks of thousands of people, not just Tamils, who are in detention without trial or charge.

One prison in Colombo has at least 10 people locked up in this manner for 10 years, it says.

Amnesty sharply criticises the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which it says allows for indefinite detention pending trial. And it says the state of emergency, which has just been renewed for another month, permits people to be held in secret locations leading to their disappearance.

Under threat from terror

A government MP, Rajiva Wijesinha, told the BBC that preventative regulations were essential in a society under threat from terror.

Rajiva Wijesinghe MP
Rajiva Wijesinghe was the former secretery to the ministry of Human Rights

He said care was still needed as there still were attempts to revive the LTTE. But he denied that thousands were under long-term detention and said that the numbers were rapidly diminishing as investigations were carried out.

Mr Wijesinha acknowledged that the Amnesty report raised some issues of concern to the government and said a plan was being drawn up to address some of them.

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