Dec 05, Colombo: The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has issued interim recommendations on the incidents that occurred at Mahara Prison on 29th November 2020.
The recommendations have been sent to the Commissioner General of Prisons, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Minister of Prison Reforms and Director General of Health Services.
The Commission said it commenced the inquiry on its own after seeing the media reports of several deaths of prisoners following prison unrest, serious injuries to prisoners and officers and two officers being held hostage.
Following the news, the Commission has received many calls from concerned family members of Mahara inmates. Later, after communication facilities were provided to prisoners, several remandees have also called.
The Commission noted that on both visits, it experienced many delays in entering the Facility and speaking to officials.
“While some delays were understandable, some of it was unnecessary – HRCSL must have unfettered access to the authorities
and the authorities must immediately inform the HRCSL when such incidents occur since the Commissions is mandated to ensure the welfare of people deprived of their liberty under S. 11(d) of the HCSL Act,” the Commissioner in charge of Investigations and Inquiries Ramani Muttettuwegama wrote.
During the visits the Commission had met with officials, prisoners and grieving family members.
Following the inquiry, the Commission issuing immediate, short-term and long-term recommendations has suggested to reduce prison population immediately.
These Interim Recommendations are issued under Section 10 (c) and (d) of the Act where it is incumbent upon the Commissions to make recommendations to the Government.
“As you will appreciate, this is a complex situation where all authorities must combine their expertise to ensure non-repetition. So, we urgently call for the State to initiate a stakeholder discussion including HRCSL, medical and psycho social experts and prisoners’ rights groups to agree on a road map,” the HRCSL said.