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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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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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