SLA amnesty marks new year

[TamilNet, Saturday, 02 January 1999, 14:28 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) announced yet another amnesty for more than fifteen thousand soldiers who have deserted their units and are still at large. The blanket amnesty came into effect yesterday and will on until midnight January 5, 1999.

In a desperate effort to beef up its strength in the northern and eastern parts of the island, the Sri Lankan army command has had to review a categorical decision earlier not to offer any more amnesties to the recalcitrant deserters who roam the country side despite dire measures introduced against employing or harbouring them.

The soldiers who have run away from the army were offered thirteen amnesties last year (1998) alone on extremely lenient terms, involving no punishment or penalty. The soldiers had to just report back to the SLA headquarters, regional centres or their own units.

The Police and special units of the army have been engaged in a concerted campaign for many years with the assistance of government officials in the districts to arrest absconding soldiers.

Nevertheless, the new SLA commander, Sri Lal Weerasuriya told a Sunday paper in Colombo last week that he is still short of fifteen thousand men who are still at large.

The army has been compelled to for a fresh amnesty due to a very poor response to its latest recruitment drive and continuing desertions from the operational areas.


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