A group of death row prisoners at a Sri Lankan jail are staging a protest on its rooftop demanding their release, officials said on Saturday.

“There are 27 inmates on rooftop. They demand they be freed,” Bogambara prison spokesman Gamini Kulatunga said, adding that all of them protesting at the jail in Kandy are death row convicts.

“18 of them are those who had been condemned for execution while six more of them are those who have appealed against (their) death sentence,” he said.

Executions do not take place in Sri Lanka even though death penalty is legal. No executions have taken place since June 23, 1976.

Successive Sri Lankan presidents since 1978 have declined to use hanging warrants for personal reasons. The death sentence therefore is commuted to life imprisonment.

Prisoners who have to suffer 20-year jail term instead of hanging seek remission at 10 years of their term, officials said.

However, at present no remission would be applicable until 20 years of sentence is completed.