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UN urges Sri Lanka not to criminalise poverty

Dec 26, 2017 13:03 PM GMT+0530 | 3 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT – Poverty appears to be a key factor in people being arrested in Sri Lanka, a United Nations human rights team has said, urging the government to find alternatives to detention, instead of criminalising poverty.

Those who could afford quality legal representation were likely to receive a better outcome in their cases, including individuals charged with terrorist or criminal offences, according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

These were some of the preliminary findings of the team which conducted an official country visit in early December 2017 accompanied by staff from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the invitation of the government.

“Poverty appears to be a major determinant of whether a person will be taken into custody throughout Sri Lanka, and how long he or she will be deprived of liberty,” said the team in their report.

The Working Group said it received testimony from many people currently in detention that indicated that those who could afford quality legal representation were likely to receive a better outcome in their cases.

These included individuals charged with Prevention of Terrorism Act or criminal offences, those detained at drug rehabilitation centres and child care institutions.

The Working Group also received reports that between 25 to 30 beggars, homeless and street people are reportedly being detained at Ridiyagama Detention Centre in Ambalantota each month.

The Centre, which is maintained by the Social Affairs Division of the Southern Provincial Council, also houses anybody sent by court order who is defined as a vagrant under the Vagrants Ordinance.

“This includes female prostitutes, elderly people, and individuals who have psychosocial impairments or alcohol addiction. The Working Group was informed that a similar detention centre is located at Weerawila,” the report said.

“The Working Group considers that any form of discrimination that results in the deprivation of liberty is clearly arbitrary, and urges the government to find affordable alternatives to detention for the most vulnerable members of society, including social services to alleviate rather than criminalise poverty.”

(COLOMBO, December 26, 2017)
 


 

3 Comments

  1. Rohana December 28, 08:57 AM

    Now I understand why Donald Trump wants to trim the UN budget UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention? For gods sake, we can do with less lecturing and more support to develop the country.Far too many PhDs with nothing to do

  2. Champa December 28, 06:37 AM

    Hello UN. Don't try to apply everything to terrorists. Terrorists are detained because they engaged in terrorist activities. Whether they could afford or could not afford for legal assistance is NOT the determinant in terrorism related cases. It is despicable to see how far the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is willing to go just to get hardcore LTTE terrorists released from prison.
    Releasing or relaxing jail terms of LTTE terrorists at the whims and fancies of the UNWGAD will give a wrong message to Tamil youth and separatist racist Tamil politicians in the North and the East who are hell bent on resurrecting LTTE by remembering dead terrorist leader Prabhakaran, erecting monuments for terrorists attributing martyrdom, having special graveyards for terrorists, lighting candles at grave-sites of terrorists, celebrating the birthday of the dead terrorist leader Prabhakaran and displaying a map of Sri Lanka with a demarcated land for terrorists.
    Seriously, is there any other country where terrorist supporters receive this much of freedom to resurrect a once vanquished terrorist outfit or is there any other country where UN led teams visit to promote terrorism??? Even Vijayakala Maheshwari, a die-hard LTTE supporter and a government State Minister for Child Affairs publicly stated that if Tamils in the North voted for the present PM Ranil Wickremasinghe in 2005, Prabhakaran would have survived On one hand she says the present Prime Minister is a terrorist supporter which is serious and on the other hand she shows her support to terrorism and Prabhakaran's carnage of civilians.
    In one occasion she had refused to hoist the National Flag at a government function. On another occasion Vijayakala, who is presumably a part and parcel of an underworld LTTE/mafia network, aided and abetted a man called Swiss Kumar to escape, who gang raped, videotaped and murdered a Tamil school girl-Vithiya who happened to be the fifth rape victim of his video tape racket which seemed to be well known to Vijayakala. No wonder this woman laments for Prabhakaran's death who collected funds for his terrorist outfit by way of various illegal means such as human smuggling, drug smuggling, gold smuggling, bank robberies and ransom.

  3. sacre blieu December 27, 09:54 AM

    They got a hope. Our politics is oriented to create scams and frauds, and poverty programmes are money spinners. Look closely how the samurdhi is operated and who most of the beneficiaries are.
    Even some of the NGO's are suspect in their actual credentials. There is a saying, Those who have ,more will be given, and to those who have not, the little they have will be take away from them.

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