No pardon for protesting prisoners: Lohan
State Minister cites security threat to prisons
Discussions ongoing: Prisons Department
By Buddhika Samaraweera
The State Ministry of Prison Reforms and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation has decided not to grant any amnesty to death row inmates at the Mahara and Welikada Prisons, who are protesting demanding their death sentence be commuted to a term of life imprisonment, as the authorities deem such behaviour and conduct as a threat to the internal security within the prisons.
When contacted by The Morning, State Minister of Prison Reforms and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte said that no pardon will be granted to any prisoner who violates the laws governing the behaviour and conduct of prison inmates.
“If they act in a way that threatens the security of prisons, they will not be pardoned at all. Even if they were to be pardoned, they will not be,” he added.
However, according to Prisons Media Spokesman and Prisons Commissioner Chandana Ekanayake, some of the prisoners at the Welikada and Mahara Prisons had engaged in their hunger strike for the fourth day by climbing atop the roofs of the said prisons.
Speaking to The Morning, Ekanayake said the prisoners had given up the strike on 26 June, but had resumed it on 27 June.
According to him, the Secretary to the State Ministry has had a discussion with the prisoners who were engaged in the protest on 27 June. There have been several discussions in this regard and steps have been taken to strengthen the security at these prisons, he said.
Following the release of former parliamentarian Duminda Silva, who was jailed in September 2016 after the Colombo High Court found him and several others guilty of the murder of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, under a presidential pardon, the inmates of the Welikada and Mahara Prisons launched a hunger strike on 24 June, demanding their death sentences be commuted to life imprisonment.