Magistrates to be permitted to visit police stations to check on suspects

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Criminal Law is being amended to allow Magistrates to visit Police stations to examine the condition of suspects arrested and held in these stations, the Information Department said.

In a press release issued today the government said the Cabinet of Ministers yesterday approved amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1979 to allow Magistrates to visit the Police stations at least once a month.

Police are permitted to hold suspects for varying lengths of time depending on the offence. Normally the period is 24 hours which can be extended to 48 with permission from the court.

For drug-related offences, it is seven days and indefinitely on a Detention Order issued by the Ministry of Defence.

Consultant to the Ministry of Justice President’s Counsel Udaya-Rohana de Silva told EconomyNext that the amendments aim at curtailing any abuse of suspects.

He said that the government wants to give some protection as the procedure to approach the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is lengthy. This however does not prevent an aggrieved party from approaching the HRC if they feel they need to seek redress there.

De Silva also said that the Ministry is also proposing that further amendments be made so that attorneys representing the suspects can visit them in the police stations to render legal assistance.

He said Magistrates are also expected to visit Remand Prisons in their area of jurisdiction to check on the welfare of detainees and recommend bail. However due to the restrictions imposed due to the Covid 19 epidemic these visits have been restricted. (Colombo, February 16, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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