The committee report on Lohan Ratwatta obtained under the RTI

The committee report on Lohan Ratwatta obtained under the RTI

of attempted murder & other illegal acts by Lohan Ratwatte, former State Minister
of Prison Management and Prisoner’s Rehabilitation during prison visits in Sept

June 2023

Attorney General must take immediate action against State Minister and Member
of Parliament Lohan Ratwatte, stated Centre for Society and Religion (CSR). CSR’s
comments are based on the report of the Justice Ministry’s Committee of 24
November 2021 that found credible evidence of serious crimes, human rights violations
and illegal acts during Ratwatte’s visits to Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons in
September 2021. The inaction by officials in holding Ratwatte is appalling,
stated Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva, CSR’s Executive Director, given the seriousness of
the Committee’s findings about Ratwatte’s behaviour, as well as it’s conclusion
that Ratwatte purported to represent the state at the prisons and his behaviour
resulted in bringing the government to disrepute. CSR is also concerned that no
action has been taken against any prison official for failure to perform their
duty of care and protection of prisoners and the two civilians who went with
Lohan Ratwatte to watch the gallows in Welikada prison as well as security
officials who accompanied Ratwatte without attempting to stop him from engaging
in illegal acts.

condemns the shameful behaviour by the Ministry of Justice which refused to publish
the Committee report or release it in response to Right to Information (RTI)
request by CSR. Justice Ministry only released it 9 months after CSR’s RTI,
after being ordered to do so by the Right to Information Commission based on CSR’s
appeal. CSR also notes that the Justice Ministry had informed the Cabinet about
the report through a Cabinet Note on 7th December 2021, but had not
received a decision of the Cabinet till 25th August 2022 (or
possibly till to date).

agrees with the Committee’s observation that the report is based only on
information that “passes the tests of consistency, probability, and
spontaneity” permitting the Committee to conclude that the “information is
truthful and trustworthy, and not mere fiction”.

1.     Crimes
by Ratwatte that the Committee found credible evidence

1.1  Using
a weapon in a prison [S. 79 (2) – (5) of the Prisons Ordinance];

1.2  Using
a weapon to commit an offence [S. 44(a) of the Firearms Ordinance];

1.3  Attempt
to bring the State to disrepute (S. 118, Penal Code);

1.4  Causing
disaffection against the Government of Sri Lanka and among its people (S. 120,
Penal Code);

1.5  Attempted
Murder (S. 300 of the Penal Code);

1.6  Criminal
intimidation by threatening to cause death (S. 486 of the Penal Code)

1.7  Causing
Hurt (S. 314 of the Penal Code);

1.8  Causing
hurt with a dangerous weapon (S. 315 of the Penal Code);


 2.     Prison
official’s failures to fulfil their duties that’s disclosed in the Report

2.1  Allowing
entry outside permitted hours (5.30am to 5.30pm) to Ratwatte;


Allowing entry for unauthorized persons;

2.3  Allowing
a firearm to be brought into a prison;

2.4  Failure
to prevent the repeated display of a firearm in the prison premises;

2.5  Failure
to stop the torture and abuse of prisoners;

2.6  Presenting
and parading prisoners before Ratwatte despite it being an illegal visit;

2.7  Falsifying
records at Welikada prison to indicate the visit was conducted at regular hours;

2.8  Threatening
a prisoner not to reveal the full extent of Ratwatte’s actions;

2.9  Failure
to complain about crimes and rights violations committed by prison officials
who were present, witnessed the crimes / human rights violations / illegal acts
or came to know about these.


3.     Ratwatte’s
behaviour that the Committee found to be not suitable for a “state visit”

3.1  Visits
to both prisons were outside legally stipulated hours;

3.2  Visits
were not for legal purposes (Committee found no official tasks had been
accomplished and Ratwatte had not arrived at any significant conclusions from
the visit);

3.3  He
was accompanied in Welikada by people who were not authorised to visit a prison;

3.4  He
visited Welikada only to show the gallows for two civilians

3.5  His
attire at both prisons was of the type that indicates this was not an official
visit (shorts, t-shirt, jeans, sweaters, slippers);

3.6  His
behaviour in a drunken manner at the Anuradhapura prison;

3.7  His
conduct had “brought the government into disrepute, caused harm to the dignity
of the Republic and the President whose name he has cited” and was an insult to
the office of State Minister;

3.8  He
lied to the Committee and hid facts from the Committee.

3.9  Misleading
prisoners by saying he has powers he doesn’t have by law (“I can pardon you”)

Threatening prisoners to
confess to crimes (“Tell the truth”)


4.     Significant
Recommendations by the Committee:

4.1  A
mechanism to obtain evidence from Anuradhapura prison officials who were on
duty during the time Ratwatte visited and are important eyewitnesses is

4.2  Police
should file a B report to the Anuradhapura Magistrate about Ratwatte’s visit to
Anuradhapura Prison if they have not done so already. The investigation and
next steps such as charging or indicting Ratwatte in a court of law for purported
offenses should happen quickly;

4.3  Charges
should be filed against Ratwatte under Ss 79(1) – (5)] of the Weapons
Ordinance, S. 44(a)of the Guns Ordinance read together with Ss. 118, 120 of the
Penal Code, for several offenses (see section 1 above) including attempted
murder at the Anuradhapura prison;

4.4  President
should take appropriate action against Ratwatte for violating the Prison Ordinance
as there are no there are no prescribed punishments.

4.5  CCTV
cameras and scanners should be installed in prisons.

4.6  Prison
officials should be given the responsibility to deny entry to visitors who
appears drunk.


5.     CSR’s
preliminary Observations & Recommendations

5.1  Prosecutions
under the under the Torture and ICCPR Acts: In

addition to investigation and prosecution of Ratwatte under the offences and
laws identified in the Report (see 5.3 above), he must be investigated and
prosecuted under Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane and
Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act No. 22 of 1994 for compelling prisoners
to kneel in rough ground with stones, gravel and sand. He must also be prosecuted
under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No
56 of 2007 for advocating national hatred constituting incitement to
discrimination by harassment of Tamil detainees being held under the Prevention
of Terrorism Act and promoting ill will and hostility between classes of
people, especially Tamils of Sri Lanka

5.2  Accountability
of security officers of Ratwatte:
All security officials
of Ratwatte who facilitated, failed to prevent or stop his illegal actions
should be investigated as accessories to all the offences and rights violations
Ratwatte is accused of.

5.3  Accountability
of civilians who illegally entered Welikada prison:
unauthorised civilians who entered Welikada prison illegally should be
investigated and prosecuted for unauthorised entry under Sections 35 – 39 of
the Prisons Ordinance.

5.4  Disciplinary
actions against officials:
While priority should be
given for criminal actions against all prison officials involved in above
mentioned illegal acts, disciplinary action against them must also be pursued

5.5  Ministerial
appointments & lack of accountability for violating Prison Ordinance:

Ratwatte resigned as State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoner’s
Rehabilitation after the incident. But he was appointed State Minister of
Container Warehouse Facilities, Container Yards, Port Supply Facilities and
Boats and Shipping Industry by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksha. He was
recently appointed as State Minister of Plantation Industries by current Ranil
President Wickremesinghe. The Committee had observed that though Minister had
violated the prison ordinance, there are no prescribed punishments and that the
President who had appointed him should consider the nature of the offenses and
decide on what actions should be taken. CSR is of the firm view that the
President should remove Ratwatte from present Ministerial position and not
offer any other positions and that he should be held accountable through
ordinary laws.

5.6  Lack
of follow up action:
Despite the report being
filed on 24 November 2021, to the best of knowledge of CSR, no action has been
taken since then by the Ministry of Justice, the Cabinet or any other
officials, including the police and the Attorney General. CSR calls on all to
explain to the public reasons for their failure to publish the report and act
on it’s findings and recommendations, along with other available information, for
more than 17 months.

full report released to CSR is available at

is presently engaged in further study of the report and is seeking legal advice
on possible follow up actions. We welcome inputs and support from concerned
persons and groups to address the serious issues highlighted.


further information, please contact below:

Fr. Rohan Silva, Director, CSR (+94-71-4250276 /
[email protected]
) – Sinhala & English

Perera, Attorney-at-Law & Consultant, CSR (+94-77-2996361 /
[email protected]
) – Sinhala & English

Fr. M. Sathivel, Human Rights Activist (+94-71-4806035 /
[email protected]
) – Tamil

A certified copy of the report, along with a Tamil translation of its executive summary section, is provided below.