Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms, Thalatha Athukorala says she will not instruct to hasten the process in response to the demands by a group of female inmates at the Welikada Remand prison.
Around 25 female detainees at the Welikada Remand Prison got on to the roof of the prison Monday morning and staged a protest demanding to expedite their court cases and to restore the facilities they have lost due to the recent tough measures imposed by the authorities.
Justice Minister Athukorala speaking to media after participating in an event to lay foundation stone for the construction of Thuththiripitigama Bridge at Nivithigala said anybody has the right to protest, even the prisoners, but the normal process will work its way to provide a solution to their demands.
“I have advised the Welikada Prison Superintendent regarding this. They can climb to the roof or anywhere, but we can’t make any changes. The process will take place at its own pace,” she said.
“Today every citizen in the country has the right to protest. We don’t shoot them as in the past. We don’t create problems by using force as the last government did in November 2012 by killing 27 prisoners. With great patience we will resolve the problems,” the Minister continued.
“Today everyone has accepted that illegal dealings are taking place in the prisons. I will control that situation somehow,” she added.
The protesting female inmates, who were remanded in connection with drug dealing, had started the protest based on a number of demands.
According to local media reports, the group demands the authorities to bring back a female prison officer transferred to Badulla Prison, allow to bring in unlimited number of meals and accelerate the court proceedings of their cases.
Around 300 women in the Welikada Prison were transferred to the Angunakolapelessa Prison and when the prison officials began transferring the women in remand custody to the vacant cells on 11th August, they clashed with the women prison guards.
Local media reported that about 20 women take turns to get on the roof and the authorities haven’t been able to get them down. Borella Police has deployed a special team to keep the situation under control.