22 Tamil Nadu fishermen, who were arrested by Sri Lanka's Navy for alleged illegal fishing, have brought before Kayts Magistrate Court.
Whilst the Magistrate Court initially sentenced 21 of the fishermen to 18 years in jail, the Court has extended this to 21 years. This was with the exemption of a fisherman aged on 16th on bail worth 10,000 rupees and all charges against him were dropped.
The 22 fisherfolk were arrested on June 21st, by the Sri Lankan Navy that was patrolling near Delft island. They were produced to the Kayts Magistrate court the following day by the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The judge presiding over the case ordered the fisherfolk to be held in remand until July 5th.
Out of the 3 boats which were placed under arrest by the Navy, 2 will be possessed by the Sri Lankan state. The hearing regarding the 3rd boat, whose owner has not been located, will be held on September 11th.
The arrest of Tamil Nadu fishermen follows an increasing crackdown on Sri Lankan waters, with Tamil Nadu fishermen reporting instances of abuse, torture, and extrajudicial killings by Sri Lanka's Navy. At the same time Sri Lanka's Navy stands accused of restricting the fishing rights of local Tamil residents across the North-East.