The Committee appointed by Minister of Justice Counsel Mohamed Ali Sabry to consider the recent incident at Mahara Prison handed over its interim report to the Minister on Monday (December 07).
Committee Chairperson The former High Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena submitted the related interim report to the Minister of Justice.
Lohan Ratwatte, State Minister of Prison and Prison Rehabilitation and members of the committee President’s Counsel UR de Silva, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Justice Rohana Hapugaswatte, former Commissioner General of Prisons Gamini Jayasinghe, retired Senior DIG DRL Ranaweera were also present at the occasion.
The committee is scheduled to submit a full report within a month.
Speaking at the event, Justice Minister Ali Sabry said several investigations are underway into the incident.
“As a Ministry we have appointed a Board of Inquiry. We have requested a full report on this. We must take action to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. We must report this to Parliament,” he said.
The Minister noted that after the spread of the second wave of the Covid-19 virus in prisons, there were 32,200 prisoners in prisons as of October 12, 2020. But by December 05, the number has been reduced to 26,364 prisoners releasing nearly 6,000 inmates in a few days.
He said the mechanism in the entire prison system needs to be reviewed. “Our goal is to rehabilitate drug addicts. The entire prison system needs to be improved. Rehabilitation camps should be set up instead of prison camps, especially those for drug addicts. They need to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society,” he said.
Responding to a question raised by a journalist regarding the relocation of the Ministry of Justice, the Minister said, with the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, 14 judges were appointed to the Supreme Court. Accordingly, the necessary facilities should be upgraded.
“Officials including the Judicial Service Commission discussed this with me. They suggested that the ministry be relocated and assisted. Accordingly, we decided to move the Ministry to another location as the best thing we could do. Because this place has all the amenities. But we decided to move the Ministry of Justice to another location to provide the necessary facilities to the people.”
He said there is no other purpose in relocating the ministry and the cabinet approval has been obtained for the relocation of the Ministry to the new courthouse complex as soon as possible.
The Minister said that a policy action was taken in this regard.