Christmas thoughts reach out to prisoners and prisons

Christmas thoughts reach out to prisoners and prisons

Christmas thoughts reach out to prisoners and prisons

Written by Tharushan Fernando

25 Dec, 2015 | 9:25 pm

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith at a special Christmas Mass, observed at the Welikada Prison Friday, says the time has come to change Sri Lanka’s legal system.

Inmates at the Welikada Prison participated in the special Christmas Mass

Archbishop of Colombo,His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith stated that given the legal system in our country, there are many prisoners who are languishing here, while the charges against them have not been proven and there are those who have opted to go to prison for various reasons.

He further stated:

There are many here who were unable to pay fines and there are those who did not get a proper hearing in court.

He also stated:

I am not insulting the judiciary, but I must mention that out judicial system is extremely weak.

He added:

Many cases are postponed by our lawyers, it takes years for some trials to conclude and cases that can be resolved swiftly, drag on for several years. So, this judicial system is corrupt and it must be changed and the legal system must be changed and the procedures must be changed.

He also stated:

Looking at it from a humanitarian perspective, it is wasteful for these people to languish here, and request the Minister to establish an Inter-Faith team to look into and assist in the welfare of the prisoners. The time has come for us to introduce a new culture in terms of prisons.

Minister of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Prisons Reform, D.M. Swaminathan stated:

Today is a very joyful day, the day of Christmas and presently His Excellency the President and the Honourable Prime Minister are very keen that we should shift this prison to a new venue because this has a very valuable land, around 43 acres of land which the Honourable Prime Minister feels,  should be set for development. So, we are trying to work on this project and we are trying to build a new prison which will be of international standards because today the prisons are in a very bad state and by early next year we will get the necessary know how and the plans ready to shift these prisons to another location and give the prisoners the maximum amount of privileges and facilities that are given internationally.

Meanwhile, President Maithripala Sirisena granted a general amnesty to 557 inmates today in line with Christmas Day.The Prisons Department said that inmates over the age of 70, who have not been convicted of serious crimes, were granted an amnesty.

Prisons Commissioner Thushara Upuldeniya, the Department’s Media Spokesperson, stated that these prisoners had served over ten years in prison. Fifty one (51) inmates at the Welikada prison, including two women, were released before Minister D.M. Swaminathan today. Thirty seven (37) inmates were released from the Dumbara Prison while 58 prisoners including one woman, were released from the Anuradhapura Prison. Fifty (50) inmates at the Mahara Prison also received a general amnesty.

Families of prisoners across the country, were also given the opportunity to visit their loved ones, in line with Christmas Day.

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