The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has said that war-displaced persons in government-run camps should be allowed to go if they are non-combatants and have a place to go.

The Daily Mirror reported on Thursday that the apex court made the observation when a petition filed on behalf of five Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was taken up recently.

The court observed that if 13-year-old Sopika Surendranathan and her parents, who were confined in the IDP camps, had a place to go and if their next-of-kin were prepared to take them, there was no reason for them to be kept in the camps any longer. The senior state counsel stated that the family were not combatants.

The court also granted leave to proceed with the rights petition for alleged infringement of their fundamental right to equality and equal protection of the law as well as their right to the freedom of movement and of choosing their residence within Sri Lanka. The matter was listed for hearing on November 12.

The petition contended that the detainees had three houses owned by them at Karaveddy, in the Wanni and in Jaffna and had many relatives in Jaffna as well as in Colombo and, if allowed to leave, could obtain accommodation.

Separately, the government released 107 Hindu priests and their families housed in the war-displaced camps. Several Catholic priests were also released. However, Internews reported that two nuns would continue to stay in the camps and serve orphaned children.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress chief Rauf Hakeem welcomed President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent statement on the resettlement process and said that it should be put into practice without any delay

At a news conference here, he charged that 70 Muslim families who were resettled in Verugal in the East had been chased away while 450 Muslim persons in Musali in the North had not been allowed to get on with their livelihood.

“The government is carrying out showpieces just to show the world that it is resettling the displaced people but the essential thing should be a proper programme of resettlement,” he said.

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