No Surety for 4 years; True Prisons Part 06

by Harshi C. Perera

(November 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Badurukada Wimal is a 47 year-old resident of Hiralugoda, Bataduwa. He was remanded on May of 2010 to Galle prison because of a dispute in the work place.

He was put into the H ward. When Wimal was remaded, there were 205 persons in the H ward, but the ward was only designed to hold 150 persons. According to Wimal there was not enough space to sleep, so the prisoners had to sleep in shifts, waking up so that others might have space to lie down. They were provided with very few mats. There was only one toilet and it was very unclean.

There were large amount of prisoners who were suffering from skin diseases. There were also asthma patients. Every prisoner who was fell seriously ill received only panadol as treatment, and they had to ask for medicine a number of times before receiving it.

On one poya day there was a Buddhist program called taking sil. The prison officers assaulted the detainees because they were not sitting down properly in the hall. As a further punishment, the detainees were forced to kneel down in the ground under the hot sun. One time after he was remanded, Wimal went to the prison to visit a friend. A prison officer blamed for not standing in the proper place as ordered by the prison staff and then threatened to put him inside the cell if he did not stay in the proper place.

The food which given to the detainees was impossible to eat, and if the detainees did not properly stand in the food queue they were assaulted. At night prisoners would take the drug ganja. The prison officers forced pre trial detainees to perform demeaning work. Wimal was made to clean out an overflowing toilet pit.

The majority of the pre trial detainees in the H ward were people who couldn’t find sureties to secure their release. There is a pre trial detainee who has been held there for four years because he cannot get sureties.

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