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* Opposition legislator criticizes suggestion to bring Sri Lanka prisons under Defense Ministry
Wed, Nov 14, 2012, 02:21 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 13, Colombo: Former deputy leader of Sri Lanka opposition United National Party and Gampaha district parliamentarian Karu Jayasuriya Tuesday strongly criticized the suggestion to bring the country's prison system under the purview of the Defense Ministry.

Addressing a media briefing, the opposition lawmaker said he was amazed by the statement made by the Commissioner General of Prisons P. W. Kodippili urging the Defense Ministry to take over the prisons.

Jayasuriya said the call by the senior prison official is a "very serious one."

The Commissioner General expressed suspicion that rioting prisoners had inside help from some prison officers for them to able to break into the prison armory.

He charged that corrupt prison officers are very much against the police/army raids conducted on prisons to weed out drugs, cell phones etc, as the raids affected their nefarious dealings with the prisoners.

Responding to the prison official's charges, Jayasuriya said the powerful politicians are responsible for the corruption inside the prisons and they are behind the recent decline inside the prisons.

"There are honest dedicated officers in the prison service. It is very unfair to label all prison officers as corrupt," the MP said.

"Due to corrupt prison officers, we do not approve the proposal to bring the prisons under the control of the military," Jayasuriya said.

He further explained that prisons do not come under the administration or control of the military in democratic countries and only in countries under dictatorship the prisons are controlled by the military.

"In many countries prisons are administered by the Ministry of Justice. Even the police are administered by a civil institution and not by the Ministry of Defense," the lawmaker noted.

He pointed out that politicization by appointing political supporters in place of suitable officers is the main cause for the deterioration of the Police.

"During the recent past, Heads of the Prison Service were also brought in from outside the prison service. Things will get complicated when such actions are taken," MP Jayasuriya explained.

Leading members of the Buddhist clergy have also indicated that it was best to place the prisons under the Defense Ministry in order to arrest the fast deteriorating situation in prisons, The Island newspaper reported.

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