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Prison or rehab centre to be set up on Mantheevu Island

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Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe says the Government is looking at the possibility of setting up a prison or a rehabilitation centre in Mantheevu Island also known as the Leprosy Island in the past, off the coast of Batticaloa.

The Minister was speaking to journalists following an observation tour of the island on Friday (23).

He recalled that during Covid pandemic, the Sri Lankan Air Force had used the island to set up a quarantine facility for the Air Force officers who were infected with Covid.

Minister Rajapakshe said only two leprosy patients are currently at the hospital for leprosy patients in the island and added that the almost uninhabited property can be put to better use to serve a national need.

He also said his Ministry will explore the possibility of using the island to set up a prison or a rehabilitation centre as a solution to current prison congestion.

The Minister said he would discuss the possibility of transferring the two leprosy patients to a suitable place with the Health Ministry.

Since 1921, the island has housed a colony for leprosy patients. Those who arrived on Mantheevu stayed there for the rest of their lives. In the beginning it is reported more than 150 patients lived in the island.

The now the island is almost uninhabited, except for the two leprosy patients.


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