Sri Lanka News

The most talked about news on Sri Lanka

Towards a criminals’ paradise

We wish we could base our comment today on the CMC, the new mayor and other matters. But, given the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the CMC politics and the likelihood of the public being made witness to an entirely different scenario in the next few hours, we consider it prudent to leave that issue aside for a while. So, instead of politics, we discuss an allied subject—crime.

The rate of conviction of crime suspects, as we reported yesterday, remains very low. A research by the University of Sri Jayawardhanapura has revealed that of 56,982 suspects prosecuted in 2004 for crimes such as murder, rape and robbery, only 1,798 have been convicted. This is an unhealthy trend.

The police stand accused of not conducting proper investigations, nabbing the wrong persons and indulging in corrupt practices that help criminals go Scot free in the end. Laws delays—lawyers are said to be like Arabs in that they both thrive on ‘dates’in the law, from which tremendous benefits accrue to criminals, malpractices in the judicial system are also said be contributing to the low conviction rate and increase in crime.

The research in question has shed light on one main cause of the high incidence of crime, which is subject to little discussion—let alone any action being taken to obviate it. Remand prisons are ‘universities’ for first time suspects who receive lessons on crime from the hardcore criminals and facilitate the networking among anti-social elements. Besides, they are the places where criminal activities are organized. How the assassination of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya was planned is a case in point.

A popular belief is that it would be beneficial for most suspects to be sentenced to prison straight away without any trial as their jail terms would be shorter or less severe than their stay in remand prisons under appalling conditions. Drug abuse, harassment and even sexual abuse are rampant in those hellholes. Some suspects are set free after prolonged ‘remand prison terms’ and it amounts to a crime committed against them. It is also believed that some remand prisoners without kith and kin to looker after their interests have to suffer indefinitely as documents pertaining to them are either lost or misplaced. It is incumbent upon the Ministry of Justice and the Prisons authorities to probe those allegations and see to it that justice is done to those suspects immediately, if any.

At a time when lethal weapons are becoming more and more easily accessible with arms flowing into the underworld from the terrorists as well as military deserters, who have become assets of crime syndicates, combating crime, should receive the same attention as the efforts being made to restore peace in the country. The low conviction rate demonstrates the fact that we are only groping in the dark and adopting ad hoc measures in dealing with a burgeoning social problem.

A process of better policing, conducting efficient investigations, holding speedy trials and meting out deterrent punishment is the best antidote against the high incidence of crime. It requires easing unnecessary burdens on the police such as being at the beck and call of politicians and the provision of specialized training and better facilities—many police stations are without enough vehicles to respond to emergency calls or attend to investigations—and establishing more and more properly equipped courts to clear the massive backlog of cases and dispose of cases without undue delay. As for ‘university education’ that some suspects are said to receive at the feet of big time criminals in prisons, setting up more prisons, better supervision thereof etc., are called for. Else, as some university dons involved in the research under discussion have pointed out, a further rise in crime will be inevitable. It is a frightening proposition! -Sunday Island Editorial-


June 4, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News and politics, South Asia, World News

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: