Prison officials think of inmates with contempt – Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera

Senaka Perera, Attorney-at-Law, Chairman of the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners, says that despite the slogan ‘Prisoners are human beings’, law enforcement officials themselves have a low opinion of prisoners / suspects.

He said that there are 28 prisons in Sri Lanka and there are about 25,000 suspects and prisoners in them at present and they are not treated as human beings in prisons in any way.

He pointed out that although there have been a number of murders in prisons so far, there is still no culprit, citing the recent riots at Mahara Prison as the latest example. It will be one year on the 29th of next month when the Mahara prison clash took place but justice has not yet been done to the victims.

Mr. Senaka also recalled the attempts to cover up the killings of these detainees by hiding it as a clash between the two parties. He says we have signed the UN Charter to treat prisoners well, but it is nominal.

He also points out that about 50% of those who leave the prison are re-incarcerated due to the failure of the prison reform process. He points out that there is no correctional process as required by the Prisons Ordinance and says that these inmates should be systematically referred to a correctional process.

He also said that the law has not yet been enforced regarding the indecent behavior of a state minister who broke into prisons on September 12. Mr. Senaka says that these detainees are not asking for even 5% of the facilities provided to Duminda Silva. He further emphasized that prisons should not be a torture chamber for inmates.

He was speaking at the the public discussion, organized by the Right to Life Center for Human Rights and the Aithiya website. Discussion was conducted live through Zoom App with limited public participation. The event held at Janaki Hotel in Colombo today (21).

Basil Fernando; Attorney-at-Law, Asian Human Rights Commission, Ambika Sathkunanathan; Attorney-at-Law, Former Member of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and Dr. Suranjith Gunasekara; lecturer of the Department of Sociology, University of Ruhuna were addressed the gathering. The program was moderated by Attorney-at-Law Dulan Dasanayake.

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