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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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Chinese contractor obtaining Port City sand for Colombo harbour projects unlawfully: FSP

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Front-line Socialist Party (FSP) spokesperson Pubudu Jagoda yesterday (25) alleged that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government had allowed China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to obtain sand unlawfully from the Port City project for the construction of the East and Jaya Container in the Colombo Port.

Addressing the media at the FSP office in Colombo, Jagoda claimed that though in terms of the agreement the sand was to be brought from the Muthurajawela area, the contractors for both projects, CHEC, obtained sand from the Port City project.

Jagoda said that on a monthly basis approximately 4,000 cubes of sand, worth Rs 80 mn, were transported illegally with the government looking the other way.

The breakaway JVP faction said that the government owed an explanation regarding the suitability of sea sand for such large-scale construction and whether the Chinese met the required standards as regards concrete work.

Jagoda also asked whether taxes were paid for the massive loads of sea sand procured by the Chinese. The former JVPer alleged the way CHEC conducted its operations here indicated that it didn’t respect Sri Lanka’s law. (SF)

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CBSL denies 70% pay hike

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… seeks opportunity to tell Parliament its side of story

 No salary increases for Central Bank workers until 2027

Trade unions, etc., agreed to pay hikes

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Governing Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), embroiled in an ongoing controversy over recent salary hikes granted to its employees, has sought an opportunity to explain to Parliament what a senior official called the rationale behind the pay hike.

Authoritative CBSL sources told The Island that the request had been made through the Finance Ministry to Parliament seeking an early meeting with the relevant committees.

The Governing Board consists of Dr. P Nandalal Weerasinghe (Chairman), A N Fonseka, Dr. Ravi Ratnayake, Anushka S Wijesinha, Vish Govindasamy, Rajeev Amarasuriya and Manil Jayesinghe.

Responding to queries, sources denied accusations that the CBSL employees had been granted over 70 percent salary increase with effect from January this year. When The Island pointed out that several lawmakers had openly accused the CBSL of doing so and State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya declaring that the government couldn’t intervene due to the enactment of new CBSL Act, sources said that the Parliament could address the issues at hand by giving the CBSL an opportunity to give its side of the story.

Sources said that following the latest salary revision, the monthly salary bill increased by 50 percent. However, those who had been attacking the CBSL, over the salary increase, had conveniently forgotten 24 percent of that amount had been deducted and sent directly to the Inland Revenue Department as PAYE (Pay As you Earn) tax.

Sources pointed out that CBSL staff would not be entitled to salary increase until 2027 whereas the government usually granted pay hikes to workers in the state sector.

Sources denied claims that the latest salary increase has been granted under the new CBSL law. Referring to the relevant legal provision in the law, sources said: “The CBSL followed the same procedure it has been following during the last few decades. This has nothing to do with the new CBSL law. These provisions were there even in the previous law.”

Sources said that those who had received higher salaries paid taxes amounting to 36% to the government, and the latest salary increase had been determined, following consultations between the top management and recognized trade unions of the CBSL. According to sources, the management and trade unions commenced signing of three-year collective agreements, beginning in 2000. The latest agreement covers the 2024-2026 period.

Sources said that instead of asking the CBSL for an explanation, a section of the media had gone on the offensive on the basis of unsubstantiated claims and accusations. “They politicized the issue and sought to direct public anger at the bank at a time it was working overtime to bring about economic recovery,” a senior CBSL official said.

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Wijeyadasa: Presidential election will be held in 2024

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Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, over the weekend assured that presidential election scheduled for later this year would be held.This assurance was given at a meeting held at the Batticaloa Divisional Secretariat on Saturday (24).

Referring to his role and that of several unnamed others during the unprecedented 2022 crisis, Minister Rajapakse said that contrary to speculation, claims and reports, presidential poll would be followed by parliamentary polls and other elections.In terms of the Constitution and the presidential election law, election should be held in October 2024.

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