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Minister Sabry reveals massive transformation taking place in the entire justice system

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By Saman Indrajith

Justice Minister Ali Sabry said, on Thursday, that a massive transformation of the whole justice system was underway with full-time sub-committees on Criminal Law reforms, Civil Law reforms and Commercial Law reforms while working hard whilst another committee of experts was drafting the new Constitution.

The Minister said so at the the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Justice on the transformation of the Criminal Justice System.

The discussion on community-based correction was set in motion following the presentation by Assistant Secretary General of Parliament and former Justice Official Tikiri K. Jayathilake. The Assistant Secretary General addressing the committee said that Criminal Law and the notion of justice were entwined and it was important to extricate an individual into society as a responsible citizen rather than labeling them as criminals.

Assistant Secretary General of Parliament Tikiri K. Jayathilake said the above objective could be achieved by the Consultative Committee via two tiers; one being, the political tier, inclusive of the political leadership that would drive towards the requisite reforms. The second tier included officials and professionals representing various fields who would contribute their expertise towards the creation and development of relevant reforms.

Minister Ali Sabry said that it was the intention of the Ministry to involve everyone who was willing to contribute to the decision-making process for betterment. Furthermore, the Minister pointed out that before COVID-19 and under normal circumstances, there were approximately 30,000 to 33, 000 in prisons, whereas the capacity is only 11,000.

The vast majority were remand prisoners, whilst only an approximate number of 8000 were convicts. Ninety percent or more in remand prison were drug addicts and not drug related criminals, the Minister pointed out.

When called for the 2018-2019 statistics from the Government Analyst’s Department, the Minister explained that only 114 cases were in possession of the pure quantity of drugs. He stated that 99% of those who were arrested, which is approximately 3300 in number, were only in possession of 2-5g of drugs. Weighing on the gravity of the situation, the Minister explained how large-scale drug criminal cases had stagnated as the High Courts have been clogged by minor cases as mentioned.

Minister Sabry said that rehabilitating such individuals through community-based correction was important rather than allowing them to mingle with large scale drug criminals paving way for the conversion of a drug victim into a drug related criminal.

State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte said that 250 acres had been given by the UDA and measures had been taken to relocate the prisons from commercial areas such as the Welikada Prison, Women’s Prison, Magazine New Remand Prison to Horana in order to increase the capacity by 10 folds in comparison to the existing 38.5 acres in Welikada.

Expressing his views State Minister Susil Premajayantha said that there was a considerable delay in receiving the Government Analyst’s Report which caused a delay in Court hearings. The Minister of Justice acknowledged the same and stated that respective measures had been taken towards resolving the matter.

MP Weerasumana Weerasinghe said that it was mandatory to include subjects related to Law, Crime and conviction into the school syllabus as children should be educated in that regard from an early age. State Minister of Education Reforms, Promotion of Open Universities and Distance Learning Susil Premajayantha as well as the Minister of Justice stated that the matter would be looked into and measures would be taken to incorporate legal education into the school curriculum.

The MP also requested to consider the need of having a separate mechanism in the execution of Law when it came to children as it affected their future and their development into adulthood.

In response to a concern raised by MP Gevindu Kumaratunga regarding the attempt to conduct Law College examinations in English as a mandatory requirement, the Minister of Justice explained that such decisions were taken by the Council of Legal Education. The Minister affirmed that the new reform had no effect upon Law entrance examination and it would be held as usual in all three languages. Adding to the same, the Minister explained that such measures had been taken to cater to the demands of the field and to improvise on the quality of legal education and practice.

State Minister Lohan Ratwatte, State Minister Susil Premajayantha and MPs such as Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Sagara Kariyawasam, Udayana Kirindigoda, Madhura Vithanage, Charles Nirmalanathan and Gevindu Kumaratunga marked their presence at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Justice chaired by the Minister of Justice Ali Sabry.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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