Mahara prison issue resolved- Lohan Ratwatte | Sunday Observer

Mahara prison issue resolved- Lohan Ratwatte

13 December, 2020

Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation State Minister, Lohan Ratwatte said over 25 inmates who led the riots in the Mahara prison were identified and transferred to the Welikada prison, adding that it is now ‘100 percent under control’.

“The main issue was that prisoners set to be released could not be released due to the delay in PCR testing. Up to now we have conducted about 15,000 PCR tests and after I assumed duty, we have released nearly 3,000 remand prisoners subject

to the tests,” he said. Commissioner General of Prisons, Thushara Upuldeniya said routine work at the Mahara prison where 11 inmates died and over 100 were injured during the riot, has resumed as the issue is being settled.

He said three separate investigations on the incident, by the Prison Department, Ministry of Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation and the Criminal Investigation Department are ongoing. A five-member committee led by retired High Court Judge Sarojini Kusala Weerawardena presented its interim report following an inquiry into the incident to Justice Minister Ali Sabry this week.

The committee recommended that immediate steps should be taken to conduct PCR tests on inmates due to be released following the payment of fines or on bail and to send the inmates who have contracted the virus to treatment centres. The committee report stated that the others should be self-isolated in their homes under the supervision of officials. The report added that steps should be taken to improve the quality of food given to inmates and medicine to those suffering from illnesses other than Covid-19, and that inmates should be given telephone facilities and the opportunity to connect with their relatives.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during a discussion at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (10) gave instructions to look into the grievances of inmates ‘humanely’. The President’s Media Division in a release stated that over 12,000 people are incarcerated due to drug addiction and the President has emphasised the need to pay special attention to them and formulate a rehabilitation program.

President Rajapaksa has instructed officials to explore the possibility of constructing prefabricated prisons in identified locations to eliminate overcrowding, and stressed the need to study the models of modern foreign prisons and take steps to provide facilities, the release stated.

A large number of people are kept in remand due to delays of the Analyst, Attorney General and Police Departments, the release added.