President Maithripala Sirisena says he will hold discussions with the relevant parties in the near future to take a policy decision regarding the prisoners, who are sentenced for minor offenses due to the inability to pay the designated fines.
The President pointed out that in 2015, 43.7% of all prisoners have been jailed as a result of not being able to pay the designated fine. He further said that it is a tragic situation and a speedy solution must be found through amending existing laws and regulations. This should be done by amending policies in consultation with various organizations.
He made these remarks participating in a ceremony to mark the Prisoners’ Welfare Association’s 100th year, held at the BMICH, on 13th June.
Expressing his views the President further said that everyone should be committed to build a society free of prisoners. He also said that we should look at prisoners in a more humane manner, and should work towards changing the circumstances that got them in prison.
President Sirisena further said that there is a need for a more compassionate procedure regarding the prisoners and better facilities in the prisons and promised to pay attention of the Government in this regard in the near future.
The reports show 46.4% of all prisoners have been jailed due to crimes related to drugs, the President said, adding that it is a clear increase when compared to the year 2011. This increase indicates the empowerment of laws against the drugs have been implemented in an efficient manner, he pointed out.
Nevertheless, to create a drug free society, we should be more efficient than this, the President emphasized.
During the ceremony the President presented scholarships for the children of inmates and the Prisoners’ Welfare Association also presented a memento to the President.
Minister of Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation, D.M. Swaminathan, the President of the Prisoners’ Welfare Association, P. A. Kiriwandeniya, Commissioner General of Prisons, H.M.N.G. Dhanasinghe were present on this occasion.