Colombo, Nov 30 (IANS) Sri Lanka on Wednesday announced a one-month amnesty to soldiers who have deserted the armed forces.
The Defence Ministry in a statement said the general amnesty period will be in force from December 1 to 31 to enable the deserters receive legal discharge from their service, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to statistics, so far there are 174 officers and 42,506 soldiers in the army, 26 officers and 6,133 sailors in the navy and 37 officers and 2,806 airmen in the air force considered as deserters or Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL).
Deserters who report to their respective service headquarters or regiments during this period will not be subjected to any punishment or detention.
They can obtain their legal discharge after clearing all administrative requirements, the ministry said.
Sri Lanka has in the past announced similar amnesty periods which, according to the Defence Ministry, had drawn "good response".
"Those remaining can use this opportunity and obtain their legal clearance," it said.
The Defence Ministry said those facing disciplinary or legal issues can get their discharge after clearing administrative requirements while others with no such past records will be able to collect their legal discharge within a day.
Further, dues less than Rs 10,000 to be paid to the services by any deserter will be waived off while amounts more than that have to be settled.
The Ministry warned that authorities will take measures to arrest those who fail to obtain their legal discharge during this amnesty period.