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Sri Lanka gives up on Army deserters

Colombo has announced that it will de-list over 60,000 Army deserters, signalled that they will no longer pursue trying to prosecute them.

The 60,000 deserters who have left the Army since 1982, will be placed into four categories and “de-listed after due legal progress,” according to Brigadier N Hapuarachchi.

Several “last chance” attempts at amnesties for soldiers who have fled have proved highly unsuccessful, with the most recent amnesty last year only leading to 2,000 surrendering of an estimated 50,000 wanted.

Sri Lankan Army deserters have also been reported to take part in serious crimes, including robbery, rape and murder, but Hapuarachchi claimed that only 100 were involved in “serious crimes”. The army itself has been accused of extra-judicial killings, rape and occupying large tracts of civilian land, with the rightful owners still displaced in makeshift camps.

Whilst the war ended 2 years ago, Sri Lanka has continued to expand its military, increasing their defence budget and maintaining an army of around 300,000 soldiers.

See our earlier post: 'Sri Lanka increases military spending' (Oct 2011)