Some 50 prisoners who are on death row or who are serving a life sentence have continued their rooftop protest at the Welikada prison for more than one month.

They are demanding that their sentences be either commuted to life imprisonment or that they be released.

Senaka Perera, the lawyer for the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners said that some of these prisoners might even be eligible to go home because of the duration of the sentences they have served.

Both Justice Minister Ali Sabry and State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte have promised the prisoners to look at their demands.  Ratwattehimself is being investigated by the CID for breaking into the Anuradhapura prison last month and threatening and intimidating a selected group of prisoners who are being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The prisoners commenced their strike soon after the release of Duminda Silva in June this year.

His release on a special presidential pardon by President Gotabaya Rajapakse prompted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to say that it is another example of selective, arbitrary granting of pardons in Sri Lanka which weakens the rule of law and undermines accountability.

‘Article 12 (1) of the Constitution guarantees all citizens of Sri Lanka equality before the law’, said Mr Perera.

In 2016, Silva was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of former MP BharathaLakshman Premachandra.  Three others also died in the shooting incident during the 2011 local elections. Soon after Silva’s release from prison, he was appointed the chairman of the National Housing Development Authority.



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