News

Unrest at Welikada Prison: Inmates assaulted by officials: Activists allege

  • Prisons officials deny charge

By Skandha Gunasekara

A tense situation arose yesterday (23) when prison officers allegedly took measures to disperse prisoners conducting a protest at the Welikada Prison.

According to prison authorities, close to 50 prisoners on death row had been protesting for over a month demanding their sentences be commuted.

A number of additional jailors had been called into the prison premises to quell the situation while ambulances were also seen at the Welikada Prison entrance.

Responding to a query, Department of Prisons Spokesperson Chandana Ekanayake told The Sunday Morning that the incident had been brought under control quickly.

Prisoners’ rights groups alleged that inmates at the Welikada Prison, who were supporting a protest carried out by fellow prisoners, were assaulted in the process of dispersion.

Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CRPR) Director Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera told The Sunday Morning that a group of prisoners had supported the protestors on the roof of the prison wards.

“From the reports we have received, these prisoners were beaten and sent away. They were supporting a group of about 40-50 prisoners who had been carrying out a protest on the roof of the prison complex,” Perera alleged.

He said the prisoners carrying out the protest were death row inmates or those who had received life imprisonment and were demanding a reduced sentence.

“Prison authorities have taken the decision to refuse to provide food or water to these prisoners. This is an inhuman act and violates the rights of these prisoners,” he charged, adding that his organisation would be submitting a statement to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) regarding the incident.

However, Ekanayake denied that none of the prisoners were injured in the incident.