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Kumari's Story; Separation of Prisoners

by Harshi. C. Perera

(October 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Kumari is a 23 years old mother of one child. She was in remand prison along with her one year and eight month old baby girl. They have been in the prison for more than a year now. The child is being kept with pre-trial detainees and convicted felons including suspected terrorists.

Kumari lost her mother when she was a child. Her father married again but Kumari did not get on with her step mother. She started a love affair with a man who was an army deserter and who drove a trishaw and later married him.

Due to the economic difficulties they were facing they both engaged in the drug business. The police arrested her husband and remanded him following which Kumari ceased her involvement with drugs. However, three weeks after her husband's arrest she too was arrested by the police on fabricated charges of selling 10mg of heroin.

A young lawyer appeared for her without charge and she was given bail. Her husband had already been released but had no interest in either Kumari of the child. Kumari was unable to pay the cash bail of Rs.15, 000/= and could find nobody for the two surety bails.

These are the statistics of prisoners in a women's ward in one of the Colombo prisons on 1st September 2010:

Convicted – 146
Suspects – 344
Sentence of Death Penalty – 04
Appeal – 31
LTTE – Convicted- 02
Suspects- 03
Total – 530

Children – Males – 13: Female -16

According to the Legislative Enactments of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka VOL 111 CHAPTER 31-67

Discipline of Prisoners

The requisitions of this Ordinance with respect to the separation of prisoners are as follows;-

Males shall be separated from females

Juvenile prisoners whenever it is practicable, shall be separated from adults

Convicted prisoners whenever it is practicable shall be separated from unconvicted

Civil prisoners whenever it is practicable shall be separated from criminal prisoners

Prisoners committed for contempt of court or for the non- payment of any fine or penalty or of money due upon any estreated recognizance or for want of securities shall whenever it is practicable be separated from other criminal prisoners.

According to the UN "Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and Related Recommendations"

8. The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment.

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