The Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) has written to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, requesting an impartial investigation into the incident which took place at the Moneragala Prison on 3 November, where an inmate was killed and a jailor sustained injuries, following an altercation.
According to news reports, tensions had flared up when an inmate had acted in an aggressive manner and assaulted a jailor and had hurled a rock at him, thereby injuring him. In response to the incident, two other jailors had assaulted the inmate and the latter had succumbed to the injuries at the Moneragala Hospital. Sources cited in these news reports had claimed that when the jailor had gone to open the prison cell where the inmate had been housed on 3 November morning, the latter had berated the jailor for the delay in opening the cell. When the incident had escalated into a heated argument between the two, the inmate had got hold of a rock and attacked the jailor, the sources cited in the news reports claimed, and added that then two other jailors who had come to the cell, had assaulted the inmate. According to these sources cited in the news reports, the prisoner had succumbed to his injuries after being admitted to the Moneragala Hospital and added that on being attacked by the inmate, the jailor’s arm had broken and that he too had been admitted to hospital.
Additional officers including from the STF, the Police and Army were brought to the Prison, according to Prisons Commissioner General, Thushara Upuldeniya, who was quoted in the news reports, who had also said damage to property has also been reported. Upuldeniya was further quoted in the news reports as stating that he has already appointed the Badulla Prisons Superintendent to probe the incident, while the Moneragala Police was also conducting a separate investigation, adding that action would be taken against the officers if they are found to have abused their power by using force exceeding the minimum force. Upuldeniya was quoted as stating further that the deceased had been regularly imprisoned over various crimes and maintained that the victim had also flouted prison regulations. The deceased has been identified as 42-year-old Upul Nilantha, a resident of Ampara, who was imprisoned over a drug-related offence.
Chairman of the Committee, Attorney Senaka Perera, speaking to Ceylon Today, pointed out that there were previous instances where inmates had died during the COVID-19 period under similar circumstances, and the Prison Department authorities claimed that they had attempted to escape.