Sri Lanka’s prisons minister has forfeited moral right to hold office: BASL

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called into question State Minister Lohan Ratwatte’s eligibility to hold office in the government any longer.

Issuing a statement the Bar Association said it is deeply disturbed at the reports of the alleged criminal conduct on the part of the State Minister.

The BASL said according to reports Ratwatte has tendered his resignation from the office of State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Affairs and not from the office of State Minister of Gem and Jewellery related Industries.

The Association said allegations that Ratwatte forcibly entered the prisons at Welikada with other persons and in Anuradhapura forcibly entered the prison there and intimidated prisoners are acts of gross impunity and a threat to the rule of law.

The BASL said allegations against him are such that Ratwatte can no longer command the trust or responsibility of not only a government minister charged with duties in respect of prisons, but also as a minister holding any other portfolio and as a Member of Parliament.

The Association said such acts of impunity are ones which should be investigated fully and impartially and if proved be visited with penal consequences.

They claimed it is imperative that independent and impartial investigations into these alleged criminal acts are conducted expeditiously. The BASL said the State has a duty to protect prisoners in their custody.

They also claimed that by tendering his resignation Ratwatte has accepted responsibility for his conduct and therefore he has forfeited his moral right to hold any office in government, ministerial or otherwise.

The BASL furthermore called upon all relevant authorities including the Attorney General and law enforcement authorities to duly act in dealing with such serious acts of impunity.

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