ANGUNAKOLAPELESSA, 3 MAY 2024 – Today, the Global Maritime Crime Programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC GMCP) hands over two fully equipped, virtual courts in Angunakolapelessa and Galle prisons to the Department of Prisons in Sri Lanka. Each virtual court was constructed with the generous funding from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in the U.S. State Department. Each virtual court contains IT and security features and uninterrupted power supplies, including through solar energy.
UNODC GMCP has been working closely with the Department of Prisons since 2019, to support its efforts towards further aligning its operations with international minimum standards, in particular the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).GMCP continues to provide technical and material assistance in a range of areas, including prison infrastructure development, prison health, prison safety and security, information communication technological capabilities as well as prison staff training on human rights-compliant prison management..
The virtual courts will enable much more timely (virtual) hearings in a cost-efficient manner, safe and secure manner. . Through this initiative, UNODC GMCP therefore strengthens the Department’s efforts towards increasing access to justice and reducing prison congestion, with a particular focus on large number of prisoners held on remand. . in parallel to this construction, UNODC has assisted national authorities in developing standard operating procedures and to strengthen the technical knowhow of Judges, lawyers, court officials and prison officers that is required for virtual hearing platforms through a series of practical trainings.
At the ceremonial handover that took place at Angunakolapelessa prison, the Minister of Justice, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa stated that, “International cooperation is key to strengthening our country’s capabilities to overcome challenges in the sound operation of our criminal justice system. Our government remains committed to fostering our partnership with UNODC and the UN in Sri Lanka, including in pursuit of our prison and penal reform efforts.” The Commissioner General of Prisons added “the cooperation of the UNODC to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the prison system in Sri Lanka through continuous assistance in various aspects is commendable. Further, this cooperation will enhance the well being of prisoners, officers and other stakeholders.”
The Head of the UNODC GMCP and Head of UNODC’s Office in Sri Lanka, Ms. Siri Bjune, added that, “UNODC GMCP is committed to supporting the Government of Sri Lanka in promoting an effective and human rights-based approach to prison and offender management. We anticipate seeing the relevant stakeholders making the optimum use of this support to streamline their efforts towards enhanced efficiency in achieving their respective mandates and in achieving further progress in decongesting the prison system.”
Upon the conclusion of the ceremonial handover of the virtual court in Angunakolapelessa, the Minister accompanied by the delegations from UNODC and the U.S. State Department, made a visit to the virtual court established at the Galle prison facility.
UNODC GMCP is currently constructing a third virtual court in Kaluthara prison and will continue to support the Government of Sri Lanka in the field of prison and penal reform. This intervention is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF).
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About UNODC: 
UNODC’s mission is to contribute to global peace and security, human rights and development by making the world safer from drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism. The mission of UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (UNODC GMCP) is to improve the capabilities of member states’ entire criminal justice systems to prevent, interdict, investigate, and prosecute maritime crime, through a sound rule of law framework and effective international cooperation.  As part of its support to the Government of Sri Lanka, the UNODC GMCP is committed to strengthening prison and probation services to promote safe, secure, and humane conditions in detention, in line with international standards, norms and global best practices. 
For more information visit: or follow UNODC GMCP on Twitter @UNODC_MCP
For more information please contact:
Dushanthi Fernando, UNODC, Colombo.
Tel: +94762228708

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