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Family members and relatives of the 27 prisoners killed in the State sponsored Welikada Prison massacre of 2012 cry out of justice in opposition to the Government’s attempts to placate them by the payment of a hefty compensation which they describe as a deal. The protest also sought to highlight issues pertaining to health concerns faced by prisoners including those on nutrition and hygiene

A protest campaign was held last week in front of the Welikada prison demanding that the Government bring to justice the perpetrators of the riots which took place in 2012 and address issues faced by inmates.

The protest was conducted on March 14. In solidarity, approximately 3500 prisoners at the Welikada prison engaged in a fast, a protest which they were subsequently scheduled to continue in order to bring to the attention of the authorities the issue regarding the timely conduct of their (particularly those serving lengthy sentences) behaviour related assessments and reviews, which at present were not being conducted, even though provisions in the Prisons Ordinance called for it.

The Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners is scheduled to meet the Department of Prisons authorities to raise their concerns in relation to the said matter.

Meanwhile, the Committee which organized the protest called for the culprits responsible for the killing of 27 inmates.

Chairman of the Committee, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera said that a recent move by the Government to award Rs 2 million each as compensation to the next of kin of 16 of the deceased and to give Rs 500,000 to 20 of the injured including prison officials, was an attempt to sweep the grave crime under the carpet by not taking in those responsible.

RLJ