State pardon for fine defaulters | Sunday Observer
Prisoners to be released islandwide

State pardon for fine defaulters

10 January, 2021

The Government yesterday sanctioned the release of all remand prisoners who are unable to pay their fines and held in jails throughout the country, a senior most official said.

The move is also aimed at reducing the present overcrowding in the country’s jails and as a precaution over the looming Covid-19 threat, Prisons Spokesman, Chandana Ekanayake said. He told the Sunday Observer that a directive in this connection has been sent to the jail authorities island-wide and the release of prisoners began yesterday morning. However, he added that 92 prisoners will be released under this special state pardon. “We have not imposed any conditions. The inmates who cannot pay their fines will be released,” Ekanayake said.

Eleven inmates died after prisoners staged a protest in the Mahara prison on November 29 and 30 demanding that the authorities intervene to check the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the facility. A five-member committee led by former High Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena was later appointed to present recommendations to reduce overcrowding in jails.

The committee also recommended as an urgent measure, the release on bail of inmates addicted to narcotics, through motions filed in courts.