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President to look into grievances of detainees

COLOMBO : President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has come forward to look into the grievances of more than 370 detainees now under remand custody for violating the Immigration and Emigration laws. President has brought this issue to Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva for suitable action envisaging any possible redress to them legally, stated a media release by the President's Office yesterday.

This is a sequel to a memorandum submitted to the President by Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who set out the plight of more than 370 detainees, among whom are 70 women, who have been arrested for attempting to leave the country in violation of Immigration and Emigration Act No. 42 of 1998. They are presently detained owing to their inability to furnish bail.

The detainees belong to different communities including Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burger and foreigners.

The detainees are a helpless lot who have paid large sums of money to foreign employment racketeers.

They have borrowed money on exorbitant rates of interest or they have pawned their property to find the money so paid.

They did so in the hope of finding some employment abroad to overcome their financial difficulties. The President took this step in response to representations made to him by parents, brothers, sisters and relatives of these detainees and even by voluntary organisations over a long period of time, hoping to receive some relief from the President.

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