Recommendations of ‘Welikada riot’ probe committee
June 25, 2015 01:34 pm
The Committee of Inquiry appointed to look into the 2012 Welikada Prison riot has recommended the payment of compensation to the families of the deceased persons and those who were injured in the incident, the Justice Ministry said.
“Compensation will be paid only for the people who did not take part in violent activities,” it said in a statement.
The three-member committee, chaired by retired High Court Judge Wimal Nambuwasam, was appointed by Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa to investigate the clashes which broke out on November 09, 2012.
At least 27 inmates died and several others were injured in clashes between inmates and guards. Several guards and STF officers were also injured during the clash which resulted in substantial damages to prison properties.
The committee had recently handed over its report to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The recommendations of the C.I.P.I suggest that steps be taken to initiate “fresh criminal investigations into the matters that have not been taken into consideration with a special focus on alleged violations corresponding to torture and matters that constitutes an offence under S.162 of the Penal Code (offence in relation to conduct of a Public Servant).”
The C.I.P.I was of the view that criminal investigations recommended should be conducted by a special team of investigators under the direct command of the IGP.
It had also suggested steps be taken to review unreasonable sentences imposed on the inmates relating to the incident with the view of granting them redress.
“C.I.P.I is of the view that inmates alone cannot be held responsible for the commission of mischief to Prisons properly.”
It also calls for measures to ensure protection of witnesses who appeared before the C.I.P.I.
“Some Prison Officers who appeared before the Committee voiced their concern in relation to fear and apprehension since some of the comments are disclosures made against their senior officers,” it said.
C.I.P.I is of the view that arduous efforts by all officers must be recognized and duly rewarded in the form of monetary rewards as considered appropriate by Prison authorities as “some officers have contributed courageously under trying circumstances.”
The committee also recommends that the issue of prison overcrowding be addressed.
“C.I.P.I is of the view that the overcrowding of Prisons poses a serious problem which is being grappled with by prison staff who are further constrained by the lack of an adequate number of prison staff in proportion to the number of inmates within the prison.”
Further, C.I.P.I is of the view that inmates be separated according to the gravity of the crimes alleged to have been committed in order to prevent the negative influence of convicts over others.
It also recommends establish more correctional centres in terms of Community Based Corrections Act, No 46 of 1999.
The recommendations suggest that steps be taken to improve prison infrastructure and facilities as a priority.
“C.I.P.I is of the view that improvements for better living conditions in the prisons is necessary for betterment and requests the Government to consider this as a matter of priority and ensure the taking of appropriate measures to develop the infrastructure of Prisons facilities.”
It also proposes to relocate armouries so that such places are not accessible to inmates. “C.I.P.I recommends that the armoury be located in a secured, separate area that is not easily accessible by inmates and further recommends for these armouries to be in charge of a trained armourer with the direct responsibility and accountability to be vested with the Superintendent of the Prison facilities.”
C.I.P.I is also of the view that no Prison staff should carry a weapon as a “decoration” but as a means necessary for a designated purpose, meaning as defined under the provisions of the Prison’s Ordinance.
It also recommends the withdrawal of T56 weapons from usage by Prison staff and the issuance of small arms, repeater shotguns and Tasers, designed to inﬂict pain rather than injury.
Furthermore, it is recommended jammers’ should be introduced to prevent inmates from utilizing mobile phones to establish contact with the outside world and also the issuance of metal detectors to improve the search methods to prevent the illegal smuggling of mobile phones, sim cards and other unauthorized objects in to the Prison facilities.
The committee further proposes the relocating of prison complexes to less populated area.
“C.I.P.I notes that given the growing populace of civilian community it is an urgent priority to relocate the Prison complexes to a less populated area within an accessible short distance from Colombo to minimize logistical hardships and practical difficulties.”
Minister of Justice Wijedasa Rajapaksa has emphasized that special attention will be directed to the recommendations of the committee and that the ministry proceed with necessary action.
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