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Sri Lankan President vows to overhaul prison system

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has vowed to overhaul the prison systems in Sri Lanka to eradicate the criminal underworld however the appointment of war criminals to head these reforms is a reason for concern.

A committee comprised of the notorious war criminal and Army Commander Shavendra Silva, Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, and the Inspector General of Police. This committee was announced during a meeting attended by these figures as well as the President, the Secretary to the President, Minister Nimal Siripala, Secretary to Ministry of Justice, Mrs. S. M. Mohamed, Commanders of Tri-Forces, Acting Inspector General of Police, Commissioner General of Prisons and the high ranking officials of the Police and Department of Prisons.

President Rajapaksa has claimed that he will tackle corruption and that he appreciated the “right conduct on the part of officials despite their political loyalties”. This news follows the establishment of a separate committed into the "alleged political revenge" on members of the armed forces and the police, as well as government officials and employees of state corporations.

The establishment of this new committee also follows the launch of a special investigation into the departure of top organised crime investigator Nishantha Silva from the island following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Silva, who fled to Switzerland in November 2019, had been credited with pushing through several high-profile cases implicating military and state personnel, including the abduction of 11 youths, with 13 navy personnel arrested in connection with the case and senior navy officials pending investigation. He had also been investigating the death of a Tamil detainee in police custody, as well as the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The investigator had reportedly been fearing for his security since the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, especially after having his security detail withdrawn after the demotion of his chief Shani Abeysekara in the days following the election result. Last year an assassination plot led by the Sri Lankan navy against Silva was uncovered by the CID.

Read more from the President’s Media Division.