Early release for drug addicted inmates | Daily News
Mahara Prison Unrest Interim Report recommends

Early release for drug addicted inmates

Prison facilities to be upgraded
PCR Tests to be conducted
Former High Court Judge and Chairman of the Special Committee probing the Mahara prison incident, Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena is seen handing over the Interim Report of the Committee to Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC. State Minister of Prison Management and Prison Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte,  Committee members and Justice Ministry Chief Legal Advisor U.R.De Silva and Additional Ministry Secretary Rohana Hapugaswatte were present.

Former High Court Judge and Chairman of the Special Committee probing the Mahara prison incident, Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena is seen handing over the Interim Report of the Committee to Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC. State Minister of Prison Management and Prison Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte,  Committee members and Justice Ministry Chief Legal Advisor U.R.De Silva and Additional Ministry Secretary Rohana Hapugaswatte were present. 

The Committee investigating the unrest that broke out at the Mahara Prison in its Interim Report has recommended the release of drug addicted inmates on bail through motions filed in Courts by prison officials as an urgent matter.

The interim report has also recommended them to be released after referring them for PCR tests. The Committee led by Minister by former High Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena yesterday handed over its Interim Report to Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC.

Committee Member and Legal Adviser to the Justice Minister U.R. de Silva PC told the Daily News that final report pertaining to the Mahara Prison incident is to be submitted before the end of this month.

He said the inmates will be given an opportunity to contact their relatives via telephone calls. Silva further said that the interim report has recommended to upgrade the facilities in Prisons since this unrest has reportedly broke out demanding necessary arrangements following the spread of COVID-19.

He stated that prison congestion and the spread of COVID-19 had primarily led to the unrest. He stated that the committee has also noticed the conflict between different groups within the prison, which caused extensive damage to both inmates and property.

Silva further said final report will be submitted after analyzing expert evidence including post-mortem reports on the deceased and medical expert opinion pertaining to the alleged tablets believed to have been consumed by the inmates.

The Justice Minister appointed the five-member committee to investigate the unrest at the Mahara Prison. Prison Reforms State Ministry Additional Secretary Nishan Dhanasinghe is the Committee Secretary.

The Justice Minister stated that several investigations have been initiated to investigate the Mahara prison unrest, in addition to this inquiry. The Minister said that steps have been taken to reduce the congestion in prisons by releasing inmates since the second wave of COVID-19. As of December 5 this year about 6,000 inmates have been released from prisons by reducing the total number of inmates to 26,364 from 32,200 since October 12, 2020.

The Justice Minister explained that his Ministry is expecting to refer drug addicted inmates for rehabilitation under a proper plan.

Cabinet approval has been obtained to shift the Justice Ministry to another location following the appointment of 14 new judges to the Superior Courts.

State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte, Committee members President’s Counsel U.R. De Silva, Justice Ministry Additional Secretary Rohana Pahugaswatte, Rtd. Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police D.R.L. Ranaweera, and former Prisons Commissioner Gamini Jayasinghe were present on the occasion.