Kaluatara political prisoners say conditions dire

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 January 2001, 04:44 GMT]
Tamil political prisoners in the Kalutara maximum-security prison face persistent health and sanitary hazards while having to survive corruption and official apathy, human rights officials said this week. Six hundred and twenty nine Tamil political prisoners, mostly from the northern and eastern parts of the island, are incarcerated in the Kalutara prison, south of Colombo. Three were killed and seven injured in an attack on them by a mob of Sinhala convicts on 12 December 1997. The prisoners told National Human Rights officials who visited them this week that their cases were being prolonged inordinately.

The cesspools in the wards are not covered and very little chlorine is sprinkled on the dilapidated toilets in the wards once a month, according to the inmates. Excrement from toilets on the upper floor of Block D of the prison complex leak onto the floor below, causing foul vapours and diseases, the Tamil prisoners told the HR officials.

Letters for the inmates are delivered only after fifteen days of receipt and inmates are compelled to buy most of their food from the prison canteen at high prices. Prisoners do not receive most of the letters sent to them by their families because prison officials who have to read out the correspondence do not know Tamil.

Many wards do not have lights; and meals are cooked with worm infested, putrid vegetables, the prisoners said. Prison officials bar food brought by family members for the inmates.

The incarcerated Tamil youth requested the human rights officials to buy them medicines prescribed by doctors visiting the prison because most drugs are not available.


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