Prisoner rights group says CCTV footage risks deletion

by Saman Indrajith

The Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) yesterday said that there was a risk of CCTV footage at the Anuradhapura prison being edited or deleted to protect State Minister Lohan Ratwatte.

CPRP President Attorney at Law Senaka Perera told the Sunday Island that the CCTV footage contained visuals of Ratwatte and his friends arriving at the prison premises and entering restricted areas.

“We have information that they were drunk. He could say that he is an MP and is entitled to visit a prison anytime. There is no such law. Sections 38 and 39 of the Prisons Ordinance permits an MP to visit a prison between 5.30 am to 5.30 pm.

“In addition, he goes there with a firearm. Not even the Commissioner General of Prisons could go near the inmates with firearms according to the law except in specified instances,” Perera said.

He said that the CPRP has lodged a complaint with the CID urging the immediate arrest of State Minister Lohan Ratwatte over allegedly threatening Tamil prisoners at the Anuradhapura Prison, CPRP President Attorney at Law Senaka Perera told the Sunday Island that Ratwatte could be arrested without a warrant.

Perera also accused the Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya and Commissioner of Prisons Chandana Ekanayake of dereliction of duty as public officers of the State by aiding and abetting Ratwatte’s actions.

“The Commissioner General should know that Ratwatte is not his paymaster but the people of this country. We have evidence to believe that some prison officers aided and abetted Ratwatte and demand action against them and those officers who neglected their duties as government officials,” he said.

Perera said that the necessary steps should be taken to protect the CCTV footage of this incident which took place at the Anuradhapura Prison as there was a risk of it being deleted.

General Secretary of the CPRP, Sudesh Nandimal De Silva said that Ratwatte should be arrested and rehabilitated. “The government gave the task of rehabilitating prisoners to a person who should be referred for rehabilitation himself. We demand that he be arrested immediately,” De Silva said.

“We wonder whether Ratwatte went to the prison with a pistol to kill someone there. If he wanted to show the gallows to someone, why did he need a pistol. One does not need a pistol to show gallows to another,” said De Silva, who was one of the key eyewitnesses of the notorious 2012 Welikada prison massacre.

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