In the backdrop of lawlessness in prisons, the Prisons Department will once more revert to the Defence Ministry, it’s learnt.
Prisons which was formerly under the Defence Ministry, currently functions under the Prisons Reforms Ministry.
The present level of lawlessness in prisons is attributed to the fact that it comes under a separate ministry and not under defence, as was the case formerly, with coordination between the two ministries not being easy to combat crime in prisons at the present.
The most recent case being in Anuradhapura, and previously at Welikada, when the police raided the Colombo prison, but were attacked by the prisoners with over 40 policemen suffering injuries.
Powerful underworld figures whilst in prison still give instructions to their minions via mobile phones to continue with their criminal acts, the most common being extortion, because prison authorities are allegedly not doing their job by confiscating such mobiles or SIMS or allowing the batteries of such mobiles to be re-charged, allegedly within the prison premises itself, nor jamming those particular wave lengths used by those prisoners from their mobiles to make calls outside to continue with their works of crime, thereby making the controlling of crime, emanating from the four walls within the prisons premises itself, difficult. It’s the prerogative of the prison authorities to search and confiscate such mobile phones, but those are not being done, a reason for the move to re-merge prisons with the Defence Ministry.
CID Director M.R. Amarasinghe speaking at a forum on Tuesday said that there was one case of extortion, where a businessman had to top up the mobile phone of a criminal serving a prison sentence, from a minimum of Rs. 25,000 and upwards. There is no upper limit in topping up mobile phones. On the Golden Key issue, he said that the principal defendants of this case have submitted a repayment plan, to which court sanction is being awaited. Ravi Waidyalankara, SSP/Director, Personnel Discipline & Conduct , the principal speaker at this forum said that laws will soon be enacted to protect the identity of witnesses.
This was after it was brought to Waidyalankara’s notice by a member of the audience that a witness’ identity may be exposed when a case goes before court, and therewith danger to his life or limb by cahoots of such prisoners who are still on the lurch.
Waidyalankara said that with the war end, excluding white collar and computer crimes, the crime rate in the country had dropped, from 60,000 in 2006 to 51,000 in 2009. No cases of human smuggling, emanating directly from Sri Lanka were detected last year, the cases detected that year, of Tamils fleeing the country were from transit points, such as from Indonesia and Thailand, and not directly from the island, he said. Sri Lanka has a dubious reputation worldwide for human smuggling, said Waidyalankara.
On the recent Rs. 70 million HSBC robbery, he said that a substantial amount of the loot had been recovered, but stopped short of giving any numbers. The event was organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka.
Police, in an effort to combat crime has installed 120 CCTV cameras at undisclosed locations in the city at a cost of Rs. 250 million in the first phase of this operation, in an activity that will comprise a total of four phases, with the next phase being the coverage of other principal cities in the island