Sri Lankan Prison System Conflict with Human Rights Standards

M. K. G. Jeewanthi


Crime is a social and economic phenomenon and it is old as human society.Criminal justice system of a country can act against crime in different ways andpunishment is also considered as one form of reaction to crime. Punishment can varyfrom crime to crime and imprisonment is considered as one of the famous modes ofpunishment. The main objectives of imprisonment are incapacitation, deterrence andrehabilitation. However, imprisonment is not a form of making a person inhuman or itshould not be a place where people are deprived of their certain recognized rights. Theinternational community has developed many standards for recognition of special rightsrelating to prisoners. Although Sri Lanka has ratified and recognized most of thesestandards, practice of prison system reveals a different picture. Overcrowded prisons isa major problem in Sri Lanka. It is not only a problem of space, but also a problem ofnot having enough water, toilet facilities, and essential items such as bedding, plates,mugs, towels and clothing. Apart from these, there are many other rights that aredeprived for prisoners of Sri Lanka and these factors also will be discussed in this paper.This research is mainly based on literature review and academic and judicial opinionwill be used for analysis, along with the data collected by prison authorities. The mainobjectives of this research is the identification of effectiveness of imprisonment as amode of punishment, identification of human rights standards which are entitled forprisoners, comparing the Sri Lankan prison system with international recognizedstandards and suggestions for better prison system and better criminal justice system.

Key words: Crime, Imprisonment, Human rights, International standards

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