No proper action to reduce congestion at prisons

Staff Writer | Author . පරිවර්තනය කරන්න සිංහල හෝ தமிழ் 7/7/2020 12:33:00 PM
No proper action to reduce congestion at prisons

With the detection of a COVID-19 positive patient at the Welikada prison, the risk of other inmates getting contracted with the virus prevail due to high congestion in the prison.

The recent detection of the COVID-19 case is the first incident reported in a prison in Sri Lanka.

The inmate was transferred to prison from the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre for Drug Addicts on June 27 .

When a navy officer was tested for COVID-19 earlier, a massive Navy cluster was formed in which over 900 navy personnel, 44 other close associates and 15 personnel from other forces contracted the virus.

Health institutions warn that the latest detection could lead to a community spread of the virus.  

Meanwhile, the Government Information Department said PCR tests are being conducted on the identified inmate and his close associates including other inmates and prison officials.

Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) Chairman Attorney Senaka Perera told Medialk.Com that they have proposed to the President and other relevant organisations to reduce the congestion at prisons even before the COVID-19 virus broke out in the country.

"This should be implemented at least now. Prisoners who have committed minor offences should be released on bail and those unable to make bail payments should be released on conditions. For good behaviour, prisoners should be sent home for a brief period under supervision. Prisoners who are elderly should also be released," he said.

He said a small number of prisoners were released on bail but it was not enough to control the congestion at prisons. 

"Former president Maithripala Sirisena released selected inmates though there were others who have applied for release many years ago. During the COVID-19 pandemic, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa released Sunil Ratnayake who served a sentence for like five years. However, there are others who are serving sentences for over 20 years. This is unfair," he said.

The attempts to contact the Prison Commissioner, Health Services Director General and other officials were not successful.