By Colombo Telegraph –
“The LfD urges the government to appoint an independent commission consisting of retired Supreme Court or Court of Appeal Judges to inquire into these bizarre extra-judicial killings” says Lawyers for Democracy.
“It is alleged that the whole incident leading to the massacre began with the entry of the para military Special Task Force (STF) into the prison compound to search the cells of the death row prisoners having taken them out in hand cuffs and brutally assaulted them.” issueing a satement its convener Lal Wijenayake further says.
We publish LfD statement in full;
Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) learns with horror, shock and disgust the allegation of extra-judicial killing of nearly 26 inmates of the Welikada Prison. It is alleged that the whole incident leading to the massacre began with the entry of the para military Special Task Force (STF) into the prison compound to search the cells of the death row prisoners having taken them out in hand cuffs and brutally assaulted them. It is alleged that when the other prisoners shouted in protest against the assault of the helpless prisoners STF personnel had tear gassed the entire prison compound including cells which had compelled the prisoners to run for cover and safety. There are conflicting reports about what happened after that but it is alleged that some other officials who entered the prison premises had been looking for some prisoners according to a list they had.
It is seen that many of these extra-judicial killing had been perpetrated according to a premeditated plan to assassinate some selected prisoners.
The LfD wishes to remind the authorities that the essence of imprisonment is only deprivation of liberty and that the right forfeited by prisoners are those that are taken away expressly or by necessary implication by the fact of this deprivation of liberty and they are entitled to all other rights including right of life, dignity, freedom from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment at all times in their period of imprisonment or detention.
The LfD states further that imprisonment is a part of the criminal justice process and in a democratic society like Sri Lanka people are sent to prison by independent judges appointed by the state. Therefore prison administration should always be directly in the hand of the prison authorities who are not either under military or police authorities and that there should be a clear organizational separation between the police and the prison administration. The police must be strictly separate from the prison system. This begs an answer to the question as to who authorized the entry of the STF personnel in to the prison to carry out the so called search.
In conclusion the LfD states that those authorities who called in STF personnel into the prison are directly answerable to the massacre of these prisoners. This is seen to be a repetition of what happened in 1983 where 53 Tamil political prisoners kept in maximum security detention at the same prison were massacred in batches within three days. The government has to take the responsibility for the lives of prisoners.
The LfD urges the government to appoint an independent commission consisting of retired Supreme Court or Court of Appeal Judges to inquire into these bizarre extra-judicial killings.
*‘Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) is a representative body of legal practitioners throughtout the island. Conveners include Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage, J. C. Weliamuna, K. S. Ratnavale, Sudath Netthisinghe, Sudarshana Gunawardana. It was established on 10th December 2009’.