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New prison and courts facility:  Manthivu island earmarked

Cabinet paper to be presented

By Sarah Hannan

The Ministry of Justice, Human Rights, and Legal Reforms is looking to build a prison facility at the Manthivu island in Batticaloa.

The project is to be proposed by the Ministry to the Cabinet of Ministers in the coming weeks by way of a cabinet paper.

Speaking to The Morning, Minister of Justice, Human Rights, and Legal Reforms Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the prospects of building the prison facility in the Manthivu island is to be looked into, following the instructions received by President Gotabaya Rajapakasa earlier this week.

“The President is keen on reforming the prison system in the country; if the project is approved and once the facility is built, the prisoners serving sentences for crimes relating to the sale of narcotics and for conducting operations of the country’s underworld can be moved to it.”

The Minister also noted that if the prison facility is built on this island, the Department of Prisons could conveniently install communication blockers and prevent anyone entering the compound from carrying mobile phones.

The Ministry is also looking to build a courtroom, so the cases could be heard within the island itself, removing the necessity to transport the detainees for hearings, which would ensure the safety of the prisoners and the prison officials.

When questioned about the Anuradhapura Prison relocation to Oyamaduwa as stated by Environment and Wildlife Resources Minister S.M. Chandrasena earlier this week, de Silva stated that there was no decision made to relocate the Anuradhapura Prison. 

This was reaffirmed by Department of Prisons Commissioner General T.M.J.W. Thennakoon.

The Manthivu island was used to establish a leper asylum in 1921.