Supreme Court Grants Leave to Proceed in Fundamental Rights Petition Filed by Eight Tamil Prisoners Detained Under PTA in Anuradhapura Jail;Attorney -General Refuses to Appear for State Minister Lohan Ratwatte Citeds First Respondent

By Asiri Fernando

The Attorney General (AG) had refused to appear for State Minister Lohan Rattwatte in the case related to the fundamental rights (FR) petition filed by eight prisoners of the Anuradhapura Prison who were allegedly intimidated and threatened by Ratwatte, The Morning learnt.

The AG had appeared for the Prisons Commissioner General and the Minister of Justice.

The Supreme Court yesterday (21) granted leave to proceed with the FR petition filed by the prisoners, and arguments are to be heard on 15 February 2022.

The Anuradhapura Prison incident, which drew local and international criticism, followed former State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte’s alleged actions at the prison, where he is said to have abused and threatened prisoners at gunpoint.

The incident came amidst the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) discussing Sri Lanka’s track record. Ratwatte stepped down from one of his portfolios after mounting pressure from within and outside the Government.

The Supreme Court also issued two interim orders in relation to the case. The first, to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), to launch an investigation into the incident in terms of the Criminal Procedure Code and following advice from the AG. The IGP was also directed to inform the Supreme Court of what action the Police takes on the matter.

The second interim order was to the Prisons Commissioner General to immediately transfer the affected prisoners out of Anuradhapura Prison, having consulted the prisoners on which facility they would like to be moved to. The prison authorities have been advised not to move the prisoners to a facility they do not wish to be imprisoned in.

The leave to proceed had been given under Articles 11, 12.1, and 12.2 of the Constitution, which uphold the fundamental rights of a citizen not to face torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and to be equal before the law and be entitled to the equal protection of the law.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran PC and lawyer Kesavan Sayanthan appeared for the eight prisoners who filed a FR case against the alleged criminal conduct of the State Minister.

The incident is also being investigated by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) with the Prisons Department conducting an internal inquiry into the matter.

Courtesy:The Morning