(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The full report of the committee appointed by the Minister of Justice Mohammed Ali Sabry, PC to look into the recent incident at the Mahara Prison, was handed over to the Minister by the members of the committee this afternoon (30).
Former High Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena, Chairperson of the Committee, handed over the report to the Minister. Committee members UR de Silva, PC, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Justice Rohana Hapugaswatte, former Commissioner of Prisons Gamini Jayasinghe and retired Senior DIG DRL Ranaweera were also present.
The relevant committee was appointed by the Minister of Justice on 29 November 2020 and the Committee submitted an interim report on the incident on 07 December 2020 to the Minister of Justice Mohamed Ali Sabry, PC.
The committee was instructed to submit a full report on the incident within a month. Accordingly, the report was handed over today.
Expressing his views at the occasion today, the Minister of Justice said an unfortunate incident took place at the Mahara Prison on 29 November 2020.
“We looked at this incident scientifically and humanely. We want to find out why this happened and how it can be prevented in the future. For that we appointed a committee representing various relevant sectors. They submitted a report within a week. We presented the interim report to Parliament. We acted on the recommendations contained in the interim report. We will study these reports and take action to prevent such incidents in the future. It should be said that we appointed an independent committee. We have not interfered in that in any way. They have acted independently,” he said.
“We need to find out the truth about why this happened. Then we have to work scientifically. It should be noted that we appointed this committee on the instructions of the President and the Prime Minister,” he added.
Responding to questions posed by the media, the Minister of Justice stated that a number of steps have been taken to reduce congestion in prisons. He said that in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and the United Nations Development Fund, steps have been taken to streamline the proceedings through video technology and steps have been taken to increase the number of magistrate courts.
He said that steps should be taken to identify drug traffickers and drug addicts among the prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses and rehabilitate the drug addicts and necessary legal amendments are being made for that.
The Minister said that about 8500 drug addicts have been released on bail to ease the congestion in the prisons and a large prison complex will be built in the future.
Necessary steps have been taken to improve the facilities of prison officers and increase the number of officers, the Minister said.
Secretary to the Ministry of Justice Attorney-at-Law Priyantha Mayadunne was also present at the occasion.