Attorney General (AG) Dappula De Livera today advised Acting IGP Chandana Wickramaratne on new categories of remand prisoners to be released on bail to reduce congestion in prisons due to the coronavirus.
The AG on 9 April issued guidelines to Acting IGP Chandana Wickramaratne on the release of minor drug offenders. Today he said this would be expanded to other categories after he was informed that there are around 5,000 other persons in remand custody who are suspects in cases unrelated to drug offences.
Excluding three categories of prisoners, the AG said that all other inmates who have been in remand custody for over three months and those who are in custody for minor offences where the prescribed sentence is less than two years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) and have been in custody for a period of over one month are qualified for release on bail.
Those who will not qualify for bail under this program are persons who are facing charges under several laws including the Firearms Ordinance (Possession of Automatic Weapons), Explosives Ordinance, Offensive Weapons Act, Offences Against Public Property Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, Prevention of Torture Act, Prevention of Terrorist Financing Act, Immigration and Emigration Act, Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act and Sections 296, 386 and 383 of the Penal Code.
Others who will not be considered for bail are remand prisoners who are habitual offenders with several pending cases and/or previous convictions as well as Island Reconvicted Criminals (IRC)s.
The AG advised the Acting IGP to instruct the OICs of Police stations and other units to file motion and/or further reports in the Magistrate’s Court and move court to enlarge these suspects on bail without delay.
He also said those released on bail should be closely monitored by the respective Police stations in which they reside.
The AG’s advice was based on a request from the Secretary to the President to consider releasing remand prisoners after careful assessment to reduce congestion in prisons.