Welcome to Human Rights Commision South Asia Official Website  




Hats off to Magistrate



Hats off to Colombo Chief Magistrate, Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena for checking a sure ruse often resorted to by prosecuting policemen in showing undue kindness to certain suspects, especially those with means, in a case before her last Wednesday.

In this case a Kegalle prison overseer was produced in connection with allegedly soliciting a bribe of Rs.10,000 from a remandee to provide facilities to him while in remand custody. The magistrate was astonished that the prosecuting officer was not making an application to remand the suspect and the defense counsel was seeking bail citing the failure of the Bribery Commission to produce the Director General's certification, and other shortcomings with regard to the case among other things.
She asked why the Commission was sleeping on the matter without producing the vital Director General's certification. According to the Bribery Act the Commission should produce the Director General's certification without which a case cannot proceed with or suspects cannot be remanded.

Luckily this is one magistrate who didn't fall for such humbug and further remanded the suspect and ordered the Bribery Commission to produce a full report according to the Act on the next date next Thursday.

It is long alleged that due to such sham work hardly any school principals against whom there had been mountains of evidence of corruption were successfully dealt with so far by the Commission. May be it is high time the Commission probed the assets and lifestyles of some of its own investigators. If the permanent Commission on Bribery and Corruption had been doing its duty, there wouldn't have been any necessity for a special Presidential Investigations Unit to take the lead in cracking down on widespread school admission malpractices and irregularities.

It is also a very well known fact that prison staff demand from families of well-to-do prisoners cash rewards to look after their loved ones while in their custody. Often such offers of their services are made right inside the courthouse no sooner the verdict is given. Those families who fail to pay up in advance often find their relatives put among the nastiest criminals in custody and generally put through a living nightmare before the time of the next hearing. And those who pay can have even a suite of sorts behind bars.

It is strange why other judicial officers are blind to such obvious ruses. Ruses that are resorted to by police are legion, but some are quite obvious. How is it that in most areas in cases prosecuted by police most of the accused obtain virtually the same lawyer? Often when such lucky lawyers apply for bail police do not oppose it! Then there are illicit hooch and drug dens, which openly operate day and night and police dutifully take a suspect and some contraband periodically just to keep the record books ticking but never to halt the business.

Prisons Chief Rumy Marzook who was put on to the job to check many of the wrongs in the prisons system, we hope is not lost in his role before the cameras. With film star looks and the hero roles he had been playing in paying the fines of poor prisoners, it is time may be more drastic measures were put in place. A poor man surely has his limitations for he is definitely up against a well-entrenched mafia inside the system.

These institutions meant to hold few hundreds or few thousands are holding many more than they were meant for. As everywhere else, the periodic promises to build much more bigger prisons with adequate facilities are like most other promises made by politicians. So we do not blame the Prisons Chief if he cannot or has not done his job, for when we have leaders who never lie, what can we expect from lesser mortals?

So let us all carry on in this circus paradise!