JusticeMaker 2010, Harshi Perera, Secures Anulawathi Release
Posted by Chitrangi at November 4th, 2010
Ms. N. D. Anulawathi was released from Welikada Prison, outside Colombo, on 29th October 2010. Anulawathi was arrested for possession of heroin and incarcerated in the women’s ward for 26 months.
Soon after the arrest of her husband, a drug addict who supported his habit by selling narcotics, Anulawathi was herself taken into custody. According to Anulawathi, the Piliyandala police arrested her on fabricated charges of drug possession. After her husband’s detention, Anulawathi went to the police station and lodged a complaint about his arrest with the officer in charge. In response the police arrested Anulawathi as well, and alleged she had a significant amount of drugs in her possession.
Before her incarceration, Anulawathi lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 14 years. She was arrested just a few weeks after returning to Sri Lanka. Working in Daman and Al Hassan she held several jobs: as a housemaid, a labourer at a school and a cleaner at a hospital. While she was working in the Middle East friends and relatives brought up her son and daughter. The money she made was sent back to Sri Lanka for her children. Both of them are now married with children, making Anulawathi a grandmother.
When she was first arrested, Anulawathi was determined to plead innocent, as she had done nothing wrong. However, she later changed her mind and instead plead guilty, resigning herself to paying a fine in order to avoid court delays and legal costs involved in fighting the false charges. However, even pleading guilty resulted in Anulawathi enduring 26 months of pre-trial detention prior to her case reaching the courts.
Because of the Justice Makers Fellowship, Harshi Perera was able to cover the costs for a senior lawyer to appear on Anulawathi’s behalf. The Government report that Anulawathi needed in order to proceed with her case had been ordered by the court 18 times, but never produced by the police. Finally, after a number of difficulties, Anulawathi’s lawyer was able to procure the report. Despite the police’s false report alleging a large amount of heroin in Anulawathi’s possession, the Government report showed that the actual amount was far less than the police claimed. Justice Maker Fellowship funds were used to pay her fine of Rs 5000/= (US$44) and the case was dropped. Anulawathi has been released from prison.