Authorities inaction alleged Kuruwita Prisons inmate in critical condition Victim’s family claims prison officials broke his hands and legs

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By 2018-01-03

BY Kalana Krishantha and Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

An inmate of the Kuruwita Prison has been warded at the Ratnapura General Hospital with broken limbs following a brutal assault by prison officers on 28 December, 2017. The victim is said to be in a critical condition.

The Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP), the victim's wife, Dilsha Kumari and elder sister Ganga Senani Rajapaksa lamented the lack of action on the part of the relevant authorities, including the Kuruwita Police, to mete out justice in this case.

Addressing a media briefing at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo yesterday (2), Chairman of the CPRP, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera said that the inhuman assault on the Kuruwita Prison detainee, Jeewananda Rajapaksa, who had become a victim of severe physical harassment and has since been receiving treatment at the Ratnapura General Hospital could be considered as the most recent example of continued violence prevailing within the prisons system.

The alleged incident had taken place at the Kuruwita Prison on 28 December, 2017. Jeewananda Rajapaksa is said to have been attacked by officers, high up in the hierarchy of the Kuruwita Prison, after having had false allegations levelled against him. He is presently in serious condition with grievous injuries including broken legs and hands.

In contrast, the Kuruwita Police have still failed to take any necessary action against the culprits whose names (with the order to attack Jeewananda being allegedly given by Kuruwita Prison Director Jayaweera De Silva and subsequently carried out by Chief Jailor of the Kuruwita Prison Udayakumara) were revealed by the inmate.

Jeewananda had previously filed a complaint against certain Department of the Prisons at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), due to continuous harassment including threats. The wounded man's spouse, the family member and the Secretary of the Committee, former prisoner and eyewitness to the 2012 Welikada Prison massacre Sudesh Nandimal Silva, believe that the assault is motivated by revenge owing to the case being heard by the HRCSL.

Despite medical reports being requested from the hospital by the Committee, the spouse and the sibling, none have been made available or issued yet. A complaint regarding the assault had been lodged by the victim's spouse and sibling on the night of 28 December, 2017.

The victim's wife, a mother of three, said that there had been so many threats (including death threats) to the victim even two weeks prior to the incident and although they had informed the relevant authority and had requested that the prisoner be transferred to another prison, no action had been taken, until the latest incident where her husband had been beaten within an inch of his life. She alleged that prison officers had even restricted the time she is allowed to spend near the patient at the hospital, adding also that each and every day she had to obtain prior permission from the prison officers in writing before visiting the hospital to tend to her husband.

Jeewananda's sister revealed that they had already informed the Minister of Prison Reforms and other relevant officers, even before the recent incident, as there had been continuous threats to the inmate's life and that no steps had been taken until now. She questioned that if such types of incidents could take place freely within the country's system of justice, what was the need of laws for citizens.

Silva emphasized that authorities should implement the necessary reforms to the country's prison system to give real meaning to the famous motto adorning the walls of local prisons that 'prisoners are also humans'. "The Kuruvita Police are sleeping on the matter. They have yet to even record a statement regarding the matter. They want the victim's family members to obtain a Court Order when it is their job to do so. We vehemently condemn this." Perera added that they would even go to the extent of filing a Fundamental Rights petition in this regard, while Silva added that they would also go to the National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses against the human rights violation.

Media Spokesman of the Department of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya and Police Media Spokesman Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunasekera were not available for a comment.

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