by Harshi C. Perera
All Magistrates in Sri Lanka are legally empowered to visit and inspect the conditions of pretrial detainees in prisons. This measure is introduced to stop torturing and inhumanly treating pretrial detainees in prisons.
Detaining a suspect in remand prison for over six years is a blatant form of torture.
Suspect number 760, W. Manel is detained in Welikada women’s ward for six years. Her case (bearing number B 2585) is heard at the Hulfsdrof Magistrate Court. The number of the above case referred to the Attorney General’s instructions is CR 3/394/20. Due to delay in submitting instructions by AG, she is held in remand prison for six years. At the age of two, Manel became a victim of polio. She never went to school. Her mother is a vegetable seller in a public market and her father is a labourer. Manel married, but her husband abandoned her after she gave birth for five children to him.
To speed up the court procedures and free suspects from unwanted court delays, the government proposed to increase the number of courts and appoint more judges. Another suggestion was to hear criminal cases on a day-to-day basis. However, nothing of these proposals is necessary to send Manel out on bail or to imprison her in jail. The maximum time to submit an AG’s instructions is a matter of only two hours.
According to prison authorities, all most all Magistrates do not visit remand prisons and inspect the conditions of pretrial detainees who suffer in prisons by their orders of pretrial distension. As a result, most of the pretrial detainees who are basically innocent are forced to under go harassments and ill-treatments in detention centers for six or even to ten years.