29 July, 2021


Sabry Stymied: SLPP Vetoes Proposal Backed By Justice Minister To Allow Judges To Visit Detention Centres

Minister of Justice M.M. Ali Sabry failed in efforts to incorporate progressive amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act (CCPA) of Sri Lanka which would have allowed magistrates to visit suspects held in detention under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as a measure to prevent torture and other cruel and degrading treatment.

The Justice Minister backed the proposal in his speech in Parliament as he presented changes to the Criminal Procedure Code. The amendment was subsequently officially proposed by the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya’s Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahuman. Rahuman’s amendment to the bill suggested including the phrase “detention centres” as places a magistrate could visit monthly to make a determination about whether suspects were being subjected to torture or other cruel punishment at the hands of their captors.

In his speech on July 6, Justice Minister Ali Sabry told Parliament that the Government wanted to give magistrates extended powers to see and observe suspects in held in places outside formal prisons and police stations.

Relevant Section of Minister Ali Sabry’s Speech in Parliament on July 6, 2021

This statement was remarked upon by TNA legislator M.A. Sumanthiran, who also spoke at the debate on the Government’s proposed amendments to the CCPA and the Convention Against Torture Act.

“What we see in the amending Act, in both the amending Bills, we welcome, because it seeks to make it obligatory on magistrates to visit Police stations and if I heard the Hon. Minister right, not just the Police stations but also other detention centers and examine and see whether the detainees are properly treated, particularly with the view to ensuring that there is no torture or other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment meted out to them,” Sumanthiran said.

But in the end, the final draft of the bill to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure did not reflect the views of the Justice Minister.

Minister Ali Sabry said he had taken the proposal to the Government parliamentary group and the amendment proposed by MP Rahuman had been rejected.

In Parliament on Thursday (8) Rahuman complained bitterly about the ruling party’s failure to include his amendment. “The amendment I was proposing was to allow magistrates to visit suspects detained by the Terrorist Investigation Division and the CID,” the SJB MP said.

“The Justice Minister has rejected this amendment,” he complained.

Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act proposed by SJB Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahuman

Also raising the issue, SJB Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella pointed to the Justice Minister’s speech, in which he alluded to the fact that magistrates should be allowed to visit detainees even outside formal prison complexes. “Why is the Justice Minister misleading Parliament in this way,” Kiriella demanded. “MP Rahuman’s proposed amendment would have permitted judges to visit even those who are being held under detention orders,” he charged.

Responding to the opposition complaints, the Justice Minister said: “I presented a bill. The opposition brought some amendments. I discussed them with the government members and a decision was made to reject that. If you want to go for an interpretation whether that includes a place of detention, let the court decide on that,” Minister Ali Sabry hinted.

When the opposition members continued to raise the issue, the Minister of Justice made a revealing statement about his position on the issue:

“My speech would be a persuasive thing for the court to make a decision. We have not accepted their amendments proposed but I stand by my speech. I stand by the statute Let the court decide what I meant. That’s how the law works,” Minister Ali Sabry insisted.

Responding to the remarks, TNA MP Sumanthiran said the opposition was grateful to the Justice Minister for standing by his speech, in which he claimed magistrates should be allowed to visit detainees even if they were being held outside formal prison centres. However, Sumanthiran pointed out that in interpretations before the courts, debates in parliament and speeches made during those debates were only relevant when the constitution is being interpreted. Parliamentary speeches would not be relevant in interpreting ordinary law like the Criminal Procedure Code, the TNA lawmaker explained. “That is why we wanted the clarification. You must clarify in the act itself. Your speech won’t be relevant,” he explained.

Final Draft of Bill to Amend Code of Criminal Procedure Act presented by Government

The Justice Minister’s remarks made it clear that he favoured the amendments proposed by the opposition, but that he had been overruled by his parliamentary group. Changes to the Criminal Procedure Code that would have included Rahuman’s proposal would have made it possible for magistrates to visit political prisoners like Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem who are being held in detention centres under the PTA.

The issue of allowing magistrates to visit suspects being held under dubious PTA Detention Orders arises in the backdrop of the Justice Minister strongly opposing the continued incarceration of attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah under the PTA on largely fabricated charges. Minister Sabry has earned the ire of more hawkish sections of the ruling party for his position on the injustice meted out to Hizbullah.

Ironically, Hejaaz Hizbullah has been detained under anti-terror laws for over a year, on the basis that he once appeared in a District Court matter for Pettah spice trader Ibrahim whose two sons strapped themselves with explosives and detonated themselves at the Shangri-La Hotel and Cinnamon Grand in the capital Colombo on April 21, 2019. Colombo Telegraph learns that in a devastating irony, the spice merchant’s case had been handed over to Hizbullah by none other than Ali Sabry himself, a senior lawyer who once represented Ibrahim in his business matters.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s personal lawyer and Justice Minister has been under fire from hawkishly nationalistic sections of the ruling party who have viewed his positions as “too friendly” towards the country’s Muslim population. His position on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s forced cremation policy and the witch-hunts against Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem has made him vulnerable to attacks from sections of the Buddhist clergy that back the SLPP.

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Latest comments

  • 47

    It is quite clear that the SLPP Parliamentary Group wants Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners held in detention under the ‘beneath contempt’ Prevention of Terrorism Act to continue. What a bunch of vicious Sadists!

    • 6

      I never expected Ali Sabry to fall this low level by betraying his community but his is even breaking records made by Dealdasa. Ali sabry is a curse this nation.these ballige puthas have much in common to loot the tax payers funds and enjoy the moment only.😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐

    • 11

      Keep it simple and clear.

      Just look at it straight ……. without any other distractions.

      If you elect a serial-killer as the leader of a nation what do you expect?

      The mentality of a serial-killer is the mentality of a serial killer.

      Substitute ye favourite serial killer here …….. Jack the Ripper, Son of Sam, Yorkshire Ripper, Charles Sobhraj, Premadasa Snr, Prabakaran (let’s not make the Tamils feel left out,) Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, …….. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Pinochet …….

      Native, got a favourite? ………. mine is Ted Bundy (A real charmer, he could get girls to eat out of his hand: that’s not easy, educated collage gals couldn’t have enough of him! ……. leading 6.9 million simpletons up the garden path is a piece of cake!)

  • 33

    This is a fair and reasonable amendment to make it obligatory on magistrates to periodically visit Police stations and other detention centers where the suspects are detained and examine and see whether the detainees are properly treated and to ensure that there is no torture or other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment meted out to them.

    Why should the Government Parliamentary group object to such a fair amendment? Do they want the suspects to be tortured?

    But PTA should be abolished without further delay.

    • 0

      “But PTA should be abolished without further delay.”
      So that Tamils and Muslims can resort to terrorism again.

      • 3

        I hear that moves are afoot to introduce PTA, similar to SL act in Canada soon to curb whatever they feel not wanted. They rely on research.

  • 5

    Good decision.

    No one wants another 4/21 or worse.

    • 1

      Pathiammakka Musupathithaan.

      Appe Aanduwa has removed its slippers, slapped on the face of EU and told : “Go to hell, taking your hellish GSP+ with you, while buggering off there”.
      Ali needs not to fear losing an election in any Eastern Province Muslims’ ward. Samagi is buttering him that if he jump over the fence, a minister post is assured for him. This is how Hakeem got rid of his Kumari Coorey case and his own CJ Sheranee Banadaranayake.
      Allah ho Akbar!
      Jeyaweva for the Sanctuary!
      “ellArum inbuRRu irukka ninaippathuvE
      allAmal vERu onRu aRiyEn parAparamE”(Its is the bliss for this earth I beg thy feet, O my Lord. What else is this small is worth for, Lord? -Sage Thayumanavar ) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thayumanavar

    • 4

      Some other political fireworks:
      Local: During Yahapalanaya time, Ranil was forced to meet the Old King secretly, in the middle of the night, behind the bushes and in abandoned ghost houses. Now he meets publicly, in Hotels and Businessmen’s bungalows. In the last meeting, he was served well but ate extraordinarily little, controlling his crave. He has sworn that until he becomes PM again, neither diabetes nor heart attack can go near to him.
      World: It appears Washington has thrown the Taliban ball in Moscow Court. Does that mean Cold War II. Talban said that this time they don’t want rule alone, because if Moscow comes back in, then they want Washington & Pakistan also back. So, they say that this time they want power sharing on arms (not on ruling) with the Kabul government. Will that be so easy for Moscow to control its crave this time?

    • 6

      Actual culprits should be punished. No doubts about it. But Karumaya paladaawi for you too, if you support punishing innocents.

    • 4

      Indian intelligence already warned about imminent attack,what was then govt done even Harin Fernando’s Father got to know and stop his son to go to church

      • 4

        your reference, “Indian intelligence already warned about imminent attack, what was then govt done even Harin Fernando’s Father got to know and stop his son to go to church”.
        I will be happy to take the stick to the correct individual in this case, as he has tried his best and has succeeded until now to side step the issue from all; including the Presidential commission and continues to claim to be a ‘Sanctimonious Cow’ and a current MP to boot and sustain the Saubhakya Dekma of the current Government.
        The Past President, HE Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena is the individual, qualified and entitled to answer. (Pre 19th amendment powers were still retained until his first term expired) as the First citizen, head of State and Government, Defence Minister, Commander in chief, Tri-Forces and Police (refused to hand over Police powers to PM or cabinet minister Public security),
        Others, including then PM and Deputy Defence Minister were Persona Non Grata (PNG) to attend even the NSC! Harin Fernando is essentially ‘nobody’ in this scenario!
        Ask Pallewattege Yapa to provide the answer’ he would claim he lodged the plea with The God at Thirupathy and went to Singapore for a Massage to relieve the enduring personal stress

  • 7

    As a matter of principle, what is wrong in subjecting prisons, or any other place of detention being subjected to neutral independent inspection? The whole issue is that it is possible to deny the liberty of an individual by authorities other than a judicial officer. Had the need of a warrant of detention is required from a judge, just as much as a warrant is required to search then the principle that centers of detention be open for judges’ inspection is a done thing. Obviously, somebody high up wanted the Sabryan thinking shot down and that too at the behest of the “Police” (the goons). So the MP’s of the government group shot it down. What a convenient form of shooting it down. In the first place why was not the proposal brought before the Cabinet? That mysterious question must be answered first.

    • 2

      Your reference, “In the first place why was not the proposal brought before the Cabinet? That mysterious question must be answered first.”
      No cabinet approval sought or may have been deferred by ‘powers that be’,
      1) To make it convenient to be shot down in parliamentary process
      2) The responsibility is passed on to the gullible ‘EMPEES’, classed uneducated and ignorant, than being perceived by the general public shouldered by the ‘educated and intelligent’ shepherds of the parliamentary herd.
      Wayward cruise!

  • 9

    I can’t wait for the day when Gota’s Buddhist-Military State is officially declared and Venerable Gnanasara Thero is installed as the Chief Justice and Ali Sabry is in a detention centre under PTA and seeking legal assistance from Sumanthiran.

  • 10

    So are Vasu, Tissa and the CP going along with the SLPP in support torture and to deny magisterial visits? The indubitable answer to this question is a resounding YES! They value their perks and their portfolio’s more than anything else.

    • 4

      “They value their perks and their portfolio’s more than anything else.”

      Welcome to the real world!

      One has been delivered to the Promised Land! Hallelujah!!

      SJ, the Promised Land?

  • 14

    Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism, and opportunistic Sinhala politicians will not allow this country to develop or civilised.

  • 14

    Ali Sabry is now like the proverbial cat who shat on a rock. He was appointed justice minister as a loyal acolyte of the president . Yet, the regime is virulently anti-Muslim and the universally condemned PTA is used to humour the doting 69 among SLPP ranks. Sabry is torn between his sympathy for fellow Muslims being held in Guantanamo style centres in Sri Lanka and his ultimate paymaster. He probably doesnt sleep well with such agony torturing his conscience.

  • 7

    What are the charges against Rishard,after all he is an MP…….
    They says wiped out the LTTE,so how many of prisoners languishing in prison without any charge just locked them up.

  • 4

    It looks as if the uneducated MPs in SLP

  • 7

    It looks as if the uneducated MPs in SLPP do not understand our international obligations and the ramifications of losing the EU GSP+ benefit.

    • 5

      They are waiting for car permits,what GSP and EU

  • 4

    It appears that NGR and cohorts in the SLPP would only like Liberal ideas to gather in respect of decisions affecting them and not the others (definitely not the oppressed, the down trodden citizens of SL who are left in the lurch).
    Amply clear that they are anti-freedom of Expression, thinking in an inclusive manner and importantly Human Rights and equality before the law. They are selfish and discriminative towards the people who have no political influence and/or supporters of Pohottuwa government’s slip shod thinking.
    This is the governance the SL citizens wanted by giving 2/3 majority, knowing very well what happened, when people (Rathupusswela) protested asking fo drinking water supplies due to wells being polluted due to malpractice of industries on the area of then government supporters.
    This is what is due to them and I am sure they would be very happy indeed with the outcome.

  • 7

    The justice minister, by not resigning, shows that he is unfit to hold his portfolio – he appears to support injustice.
    In western countries, an accused in detention prior to/during trial, can be visited by his lawyer, and converse/discuss his case in private.
    When/if this happens in Sri Lanka, we would have attained real democracy.

  • 2

    They are waiting for car permits,what GSP and EU

  • 2

    [So that Tamils and Muslims can resort to terrorism again]

    Moron Blind Eagle alis HLD, they want this in order to cut off your naki balls off. That is not terrorism but castrate your non functioning balls and to close your filthy mouth.

  • 1

    “Ambanda” Sabry has now become a “Gon” Sabry as he is not in a position even to keep his own words he speaks in the Parliament. Unless he is a “born liar”, which I do not think so, has proved by his inability to include what he said in the Parliament into the Bill clearly shows he is a person who cannot be trusted and he is another “slave” of the Rajapakse brothers. An educated crook and a liar!

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