ECONOMYNEXT – A new 200-acre prison complex in Millaniya, Horana will increase Sri Lanka’s prison capacity to 100,000 prisoners, Justice Minister Ali Sabry said Tuesday (06).
Sabry told parliament that the Welikada Magazine prison will be relocated to the new complex, which will be built to international standards and in accordance with principles such as the Nelson Mandela Rules for Treatment of Prisoners.
According to the minister, Sri Lanka’s overcrowded prisons housed 28,000 to 30,000 prisoners at any given time before the COVID-19 epidemic.
“But we only have capacity for 10,000 prisoners at a time,” he said.
In light of the COVID-19 situation, based on recommendation of the chief justice, the attorney general and the police, the government took steps to release prisoners on bail in cases where imprisonment wasn’t seen as essential, said Sabry.
“We were able to reduce the numbers from about 27,000 to 18,000 prisoners, but that was a short term solution,” he said.
“The new prison complex which in Horana will increase the current capacity tenfold,” he added.
Separate prisons will be built inside the complex for women, children and criminals of various categories, said Sabry.
A rehabilitation centre will be also built for drug addicts which can facilitate 2,000 addicts at a time, he added.
The construction of the prison complex is set to commence in October and is expected to be completed by 2024.
Meanwhile,State Minister of Prisons Lohan Ratwatte said in April that the 42 acres of land housing the Welikada prison will be given to a private investor for development once the prison is moved to Horana.
On May 22, Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers approved a proposal by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to lease the land for an urban development project. (Colombo/July06/2021)