A severe dearth of jail guards has led to the Prisons authorities assigning prisoners to guard the main entrances of some prisons.
Minister of Justice Dilan Perera told The Island yesterday (28) that he had learnt about this sad state of affairs very recently and believed that some officials were delaying the recruitment process though financial provision had been made available.
There are 26 prisons holding 29,000 prisoners, including those on remand. The normal cadre of the prisons department was 5,000 guards and officers but about 1,000 of them had retired or had resigned for various reasons, Commissioner General of Prions Vajira Wijegunawardena said.
Dilan Perera said if this state of affairs continues, even the administration of the prisons could be given to prisoners. At present, there were about 2,000 vacancies in the Prisons Department and these remained unfilled due to the negligence of some of the prisons officials though the ministry had wanted all vacancies to be filled immediately, to prevent a breakdown in the prisons administration.
However, interviews were being held currently to recruit a small number of prison guards but all officials in the department had to cooperate to find out the exact number of vacancies and take steps to fill the vacancies as there was provision made in the votes of the department to fill the vacancies he said.
The Commissioner General of Prisons said he admitted that there were about a 1,000 vacancies but he had requested the ministry for approval to recruit guards and was waiting for a response.