Plus - Letter to the Editor

The horrors of remand custody

Being remanded can be a hideous experience for anyone who is not a hardcore criminal. You read the newspapers and see how as a matter of course, judges remand persons brought before the court. When someone is brought before the criminal justice system for an alleged offence, bail should be considered, assuming that the person in question is innocent until proven guilty.

Of course, there are crimes for which bail cannot be granted. There are also good reasons to refuse bail, as in cases where the person may interfere with the investigation of the crime if enlarged on bail, or where the person has jumped bail on a previous occasion.

Very often, those who are produced before the courts for bailable offences are remanded, usually for a few days, even though there are no compelling reasons for refusing bail.

A remand order is made on some flimsy excuse submitted by the police or because the police are prejudiced against the victim or, even worse, because of the idiosyncrasies of the magistrate. The remand order may be extended for a further term if the accused is unlucky.

The fact remains that being confined to remand custody in a Sri Lankan detention centre, whether a prison or a police cell, is a hideous experience that can permanently scar a person. The person is punished even before his case is tried.

The Supreme Court should make a ruling on this matter of remanding people at the whims and fancies of the police or the magistrate.

At present, we cannot expect much from our supreme sovereign Parliament, which is more interested in extending the state of emergency than reinforcing the fundamental rights of citizens.

F. M. Anthony, Nugegoda

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