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Sri Lankan soldiers accused of ‘criminal acts’ may receive amnesty

The Sri Lankan army said that soldiers who deserted the military and are accused of “malpractices or criminal acts” may still be able to receive an amnesty, in an announcement made last week.  

“Absentees who have been charged for indiscipline or accused of other malpractices or criminal acts could also receive a discharge in accordance with existing Army legal procedures and regulations,” said the announcement in an appeal to deserters to hand themselves over to the military.

The amnesty announcement follows several similar moves by the Sri Lankan military in recent years.

In 2017, the head of Sri Lanka’s army warned that deserters posed a “threat to society”, with military officials stating there were as many as over 36,000 Sri Lankan deserters still at large.

Sri Lankan troops are accused of committing human rights abuses and carrying out mass atrocities in a military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils in 2009. The use of torture by the security forces and other human rights violations have also been documented to continue on the island. 

The announcement comes just weeks after the extension of a UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for a hybrid mechanism of transitional justice.