Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission accepts conflicting statements from prisoners and jailers

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) visited Anuradhapura prison as part of their investigation into State Minister, Lohan Ratwatte, after he had stormed the prison and forced Tamil prisoners to kneel before him at gun point.

During their inquiry they accepted conflicting statements from the prisoners and the jailers with the latter denying that the incident took place. HRCSL Commissioner  Nimal Karunasiri told reporters that “jailers said that all they did was provide security to the Minister upon his arrival at the complex” but they denied having seen the event, claiming that they were “going around the jail ensuring security protocols for the minister were in place”.

Former Sri Lankan commissioner for human rights, Ambika Satkunanathan, pointed out that this was implausible as it is a critical part of the security protocol to accompany the minister during his visit.

Whilst Karunasiri has stated that the next step would be to hand over the information gathered “to representative officials for further investigation, Satkunanathan highlights that the mandate of the commissioner “is not to merely gather info & submit to other entities for investigation but to assess whether FRS have been violated & issues rec”.

The independence of the HRCSL has been called into question following the appointment of an all Sinhalese board in November following the passage of the controversial 20th amendment. At the time, Satkunanathan maintained that the institution could no longer be considered independent.

Whilst Ratwatte has resigned from his post as Minister for Prisoners Management and Rehabilitation he has retained as a Minister overseeing other subjects. Both the TNA and TNPF have called for his immediate sacking and arrest.

TNA parliamentarian, M.A Sumanthiran maintained that he must be removed from all his positions immediately and noted that his gun must be confiscated otherwise it would be “a grave threat to the public at large”.

Lohan Ratwatte has a history of mass murder and irresponsible behaviour with firearms. He led the killing of ten unarmed Muslims during the 2001 general elections for which he was convicted and sentenced by the high court. He was later acquitted on flimsy grounds. 

More recently, in late December 2020, he terrified hotel guests in Kandy by firing gunshots into the air reportedly due to anger. 

Read more here.

Read Satkunanathan's twitter thread here.


We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.