Most Welikada protestors rapists/drug dealers: Prisons Dept.
- Say protestors’ numbers dwindle from 40 to 13
- HRCSL visits protestors to ask for halt; receives unfavourable response
BY Dinitha Rathnayake
The prisoners who launched the protest on the rooftop of the Welikada Prison – which has been going on for more than a month and 10 days now – seeking Presidential pardons, are mostly rapists and drug dealers, according to Prisons Spokesman and Commissioner Chandana Ekanayake.
Speaking to The Morning, he said that while around 40 prisoners who were convicted over rape and drug dealing staged a protest at the Welikada Prison, by yesterday (26) however, the number of protestors had decreased to 13.
“At the beginning, around 40 prisoners protested, but only 13 are demanding the Presidential pardon now.”
According to Ekanayake, officials from the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) visited the prisoners yesterday and requested them to discontinue the protest, however, the prisoners response to the request was not positive.
The Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) meanwhile claimed that inmates involved in the protest are not given food and water.
When The Morning inquired as to whether this was indeed the case, Ekanayake said that the inmates are provided with food downstairs, but not on the rooftop.
“We cannot deliver food to the rooftop, if that is what they are asking for.”
According to him, the inmates were provided with solutions after discussions with Prisons Commissioner General Thushara Upuldeniya and Justice Minister M.U.M. Ali Sabry (PC).
“Considering the prisoners’ demands, we have established a committee that would consider a Presidential pardon for those serving long term sentences. The committee would give a final decision on the pardon but the process takes time, as we all know,” Ekanayake added.
Meanwhile, the Prisons Department has recorded all statements related to the incidents that took place at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons involving former Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation State Minister Lohan Ratwatte.
According to sources, retired High Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena is expected to visit the Anuradhapura Prison this week.