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More than 1000 prisoners Sri Lankans released for Christmas

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Christmas mass at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Stop in Sri Lanka, December 25, 2023.

Agence France-Presse

More than 1,000 prisoners in Sri Lanka benefited from a presidential pardon on the occasion of Christmas, an official said on Monday the prison administration.

Among the 1,004 people released on Monday are Sri Lankans detained for unpaid fines, said this official, Gamini Dissanayake.

Sri Lanka, populated mainly by Buddhists, announced a collective amnesty in May on Vesak Day, marking the birth, state of enlightenment and death of Buddha.

During the week before Christmas, Sri Lankan police carried out a major anti-drug operation, criticized by human rights activists for the lack of legal mandates and preliminary investigations.

Nearly 13,700 suspected traffickers have been arrested, as well as 1,100 consumers, who will have to undergo a detoxification program in army centers, detailed Sunday the police.

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The operation must resume from December 27, according to the authorities.

The island state's prisons are notorious for being overcrowded.

There are around 30,000 detainees in infrastructures designed for 11,000 people, according to official figures as of last Friday.

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