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Report on torture in Sri Lanka (September 2006/7)

Compilation of Sri Lankan torture (by State agents) September 06 to Date.

 

1. SRI LANKA: Man brutally tortured by police after allegedly being implicated with false charges

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

27 September 2006

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UA-319-2006: SRI LANKA: Man brutally tortured by police after allegedly being implicated with false charges

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; illegal arrest and detention; fabrication of charges; un-rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to inform you of the severe torture of Mr. Illukumbura Mudiyanselage Mudiyanse, a 49-year-old trader, by the Thalathuoya police on 9 June 2006. Due to torture, the victim received considerable injuries over most parts of his body and suffered complete loss of hearing in his left ear. According to the victim, the Thalathuoya police falsely charged him with selling cannabis due to his complaint against a timber mill owner who has good connections with the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Thalathuoya police. Despite his complaint to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, no serious action has yet been taken against the alleged perpetrators.

 

According to the victim, he got into a heated disagreement with the owner of the local "Sugath Timber Mills", who refused to pay him his due broker fee of Rs. 9000 (approx. USD 100), plus the additional cost of damages to the culvert and the road due to the transportation of timber logs. Mr. Mudiyanse lodged a formal complaint against the owner with the Thalathuoya police station on 8 June 2006, but they took no action in the matter.

 

At around 1:30pm on the following day (June 9), Police Sergeant Thushara visited Mr. Mudiyanse at his family home, where he then proceeded to shout at him, using extremely abusive language. That same night, at around 8:00 pm, two Thalathuoya police officers in civilian dress entered Mr. Mudiyanse's home. They stated that the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Thalathuoya police station wished to get a formal statement from him, following his complaint. They then took Mr. Mudiyanse in a jeep to the police station. Upon arrival, Mr. Mudiyanse claims that he saw the timber mill owner with whom he had had a disagreement the previous day.

 

The OIC arrested Mr. Mudiyanse on the charges of selling ganja - an allegation which Mr. Mudiyanse ardently denies, and which was not substantiated by the local police with any conclusive evidence. According to Mr. Mudiyanse, the OIC took a green hose-pipe and proceeded to beat him over the head with it at least 20 times. He then placed a small packet wrapped in paper in Mr. Mudiyanse's hands, saying “Here is the ganja!”. Mr. Mudiyanse threw the packet onto the officer's table.

 

Some hours later, another police officer ordered Mr. Mudiyanse to place his fingerprints on the packet of ganja. Mr. Mudiyanse out rightly refused to do so; and was again taken to the OIC, who allegedly ordered the police officer to obtain Mr. Mudiyanse's fingerprints on heated lacquer. The police officer did as requested; severely burning Mr. Mudiyanse's fingers in the process. Mr. Mudiyanse was then detained overnight at the police station.

 

The following day (June 10), the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) made one of his routine inspection visits to the Thalathuoya police station. When he came to the detainee lock-up, Mr. Mudiyanse told him of his ordeal, and that he was completely innocent of the charges that had been brought against him. The ASP questioned the Thalathuoya OIC on this. After the ASP left, the OIC came to the lock-up and verbally abused Mr. Mudiyanse.

 

Mr. Mudiyanse was later examined by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of the Thalathuoya Government Hospital, and the following day, was presented before the additional magistrate of Kandy, who remanded him to the Bogambara prison. Mr. Mudiyanse was subsequently released on the June 15, on bail of Rs. 1000 (approx. 10 USD).

 

Mr. Mudiyanse incurred injuries to his head and most other parts of his body, and burns on his left thumb, and suffered complete loss of hearing in his left ear as a result of his torture. He lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka regarding the incident with the help of a local human rights organization in June 2006 (Reg. No.:- FR/KD/T/124/06/II).

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below, expressing your grave concern and moral indignation of the completely unlawful, unwarranted and unethical behaviour of the officers of the Thalathuoya police station in the illegal arrest and detention and brutal torture of Mr. Mudiyanse.

 

Name of victim: Mr. Illukumbura Mudiyanselage Mudiyanse; A 49-year-old trader and resident of Thalathuoya, Kandy district III, Kandy division, Sri Lanka

Alleged perpetrators:

1. Owner of the local "Sugath Timber Mills" in Thalathuoya

2. Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Thalathuoya police station in Kandy

3. Police Sergeant Thushara attached to the Thalathuoya police station

4. Other police officers attached to the Thalathuoya police station

Date of incident: 9 June 2006

Place of incident: Thalathuoya police station

 

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2. Sri Lanka: A man's life is in grave danger due to torture

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

27 September 2006

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UA-318-2006: Sri Lanka: A man's life is in grave danger due to torture

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; denial of adequate medical treatment; impunity; un-rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) calls for your urgent intervention into the alleged torture of a 25 year-old man named Lalith Rajapakse from Kirigallewa by the Medawachchiya police and Anuradhapura prison officials in Anuradhapura district, Anuradhapura division, Sri Lanka on 21 September 2006. The victim's condition become very critical and now is in grave danger of losing his life.

 

Mr. Rajapakse had surrendered himself voluntarily to the police via his lawyer once he learned that a complaint was lodged against him at the local police station on 21 September 2006. Once he was detained, the Medawachchiya police allegedly began to mercilessly beat him. The torture was so severe that Mr Rajapakse lost consciousness, which forced the police to bring the victim to the Medawachchiya hospital where he was then administered saline. However, later that day and against the doctors orders, the police allegedly discharged the victim from the hospital and forced him to take 6 Panadol (aspirin) pills so that he could be presented before the Magistrate's court. Mr. Rajapakse's family claims that he was in so much pain that he vomited blood in the courtroom.  

 

Once the Magistrate witnessed the victim's condition, he ordered the Anuradhapura prison guards to immediately take him to a medical facility.  However, in a direct contravention of the court's orders, the guards allegedly returned the victim to the remand prison where they once again brutally assaulted him.  As a consequence, Mr. Rajapakse's condition has deteriorated and he now is in grave danger of losing his life. He is still being detained at the remand prison without adequate medical treatment.

 

The AHRC deplores this incident and urges that the relevant authorities take immediate action to ensure that the victim receives proper medical attention. The AHRC also demands that a thorough independent investigation is conducted into this shameful incident and that immediate legal action is taken against the alleged perpetrators.  It is also necessary that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to conduct their own investigation and that the victim is awarded adequate compensation for the physical and mental trauma that he has suffered. The AHRC also urges the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to promptly take the necessary remedial measures to ensure that torture is never committed again.    

 

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3. SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a fisherman by Weligama police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

29 September 2006

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UA-323-2006: SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a fisherman by Weligama police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; police brutality and corruption; illegal arrest; un-rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the illegal arrest and brutal torture of Mr. P. Gnanasiri and the vicious assault of members of his family, by officers of the Weligama police in Matara district II, Matara division, Sri Lanka on 13 September 2006.

 

Mr. Gnanasiri, a fisherman in the southern coastal town of Weligama, was internally displaced by the tsunami of December 2004. Since then, he, his wife Mallika and their five children have been living in the ramshackle Weligama camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

 

On 13 September 2006, Mr. Gnanasiri had a heated argument with one of his neighbours in the camp. That same evening, at around 7:30pm, two policemen attached to the Traffic Division of the Weligama Police Station visited his tent. The officers verbally abused him, using foul and offensive language, and then arrested him- without producing a valid warrant.

 

Mr. Gnanasiri claims that he requested the officers not to use such abusive and offensive language in the presence of his family. In response, one of the policemen is reported to have said; "We will teach you a lesson not in word, but by deed", and started to severely beat Mr. Gnanasiri. The policemen then handcuffed him to a tent pole, and continued in their inhumane assault of Mr. Gnanasiri for a period of around 20 minutes. Then, Mr. Gnanasiri claims that he saw one of the policemen making a telephone call to the Weligama Police Station. A few minutes later, several policemen arrived at the scene, in police jeeps, and joined in the brutal assault of Mr. Gnanasiri.

 

Mr. Gnanasiri's wife Mallika, seeing this merciless attack on her husband, began to weep profusely, begging the police officers to desist in their assault. In response, one of the officers viciously assaulted Mrs. Gnanasiri, kicking her hard on her spinal cord. Seeing their parents being viciously beaten by so-called law-enforcement officers, their children too began to cry. The police officers then allegedly assaulted the children; one of their daughters, a twelve-year-old girl was also kicked in her spine and then thrown over a table to the ground, while their nine-year-old son was aggressively slapped several times on his face.

 

Mallika's sister, Chandralatha, seeing this inhumane assault, bravely questioned the police officers as to what her sister and family could possibly have done to deserve such a brutal attack. An officer then began to beat her severely, and dragged her by her hair into one of the police jeeps. They then forced Mr. Gnanasiri into the jeep, before proceeding to the nearby Weligama Police Station. Inside the jeep, Mr. Gnanasiri claims that he was pushed to the ground while several officers aggressively trampled and kicked him with their heavy boots- all the way to the station.

 

At the station, Chandralatha, was forced to sit on a bench and witness the further brutal attack and torture of her brother-in-law; this time with heavy wooden poles. Apparently, Mr. Gnanasiri repeatedly told the officers that he was still slowly recovering from prior injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident, but they continued in their wreaking of terror and torture nonetheless.

 

The police officers later removed Mr. Gnanasiri's handcuffs and pushed him into a police holding-cell overnight, where he was deprived of food, water and medication. In addition, the police did not allow any of his family members to visit him- even though they had come to the station with that very same purpose.

 

The next day- 14 September 2006- at around 10:00am, officers took both Mr. Gnanasiri and Chandralatha to the Matara Magistrate's Court, by police van. On their way to the Magistrate's court, they passed by Mr. Gnanasiri's wife and told her to also get into the vehicle- but officers later demanded money from the wife for the van journey.

 

At the Magistrate's court, Mr. Gnanasiri was fined Rs. 5000 (USD 50) by the Magistrate. But he insists that at no time during his arrest, torture, detention and court-visit, was he informed of the charges filed against him, nor was he asked at the Magistrate's court whether he wanted to plead guilty, or not-guilty; two of the most basic fundamental rights of any civilian facing legal prosecution. Meanwhile, his sister-in-law, Chandralatha was charged with 'obstruction of police duty'; her case is scheduled for 17 January 2007.

 

On 15 September 2006, Mr. Gnanasiri's condition took a turn for the worse, and he was rushed to the nearby Matara Hospital, where he was warded in Ward no. 22, for a period of several days. That same night, his statement in which he detailed his ordeal, was recorded by the Matara Hospital Police. The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) also recorded his statement, but did not perform any further medical examination of Mr. Gnanasiri's torture-inflicted injuries. His wife, Mallika was also warded in the same hospital for the grievous assault-injuries caused to her by the accused Weligama police officers.

 

Mr. Gnanasiri is adamant that the reason for his torture and unwarranted arrest is because the neighbour with whom he had had a dispute in the Weligama IDP camp, has close personal associations with officers of the Weligama police. Thus, he believes that the police officers of the Weligama Police Station manipulated their positions of state-appointed authority and power in settling a personal score, on behalf of their close, personal friend.

 

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4.SRI LANKA: Farmer brutally tortured and systematically intimidated by police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

6 October 2006

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UA-332-2006: SRI LANKA: Farmer brutally tortured and systematically intimidated by police

 

SRI LANKA: Arbitrary arrest and torture; police corruption and brutality; intimidation; Need for witness protection; failure of rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arbitrary arrest, detention and subsequent brutal torture of Mr. Suddage Sirisena, a fifty-year-old rural farmer on 24 August 2006 the Kekirawa police in Anuradhapura district, Anuradhapura division, Sri Lanka; and the inexcusable coercion tactics employed by the accused officers in preventing the application of the process of due justice.

 

On 24 August 2006, Mr. Sirisena was forcibly taken by arresting officers to the Kekirawa Police Station, where he was brutally tortured by two senior officers; sustaining grievous bodily injuries, a fractured nose and the loss of five front teeth. He was later hospitalized at the local government hospital for a period of several days, during which time, he was also informed that his two torturers had been suspended from duty.

 

Then, 22 September 2006, at about 1:30pm, Police Sergeant Keerthi from the same police station visited Mr. Sirisena at his home, and told him that the Anuradhapura Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) wished to record Mr. Sirisena's formal statement. Mr. Sirisena was then told to come to the Kekirawa Police Station- the place of his torture- that very same day at around 4:00pm.

 

At around 3:45pm, Mr. Sirisena together with his nephew arrived at the Kekirawa Police Station as instructed. Sergeant Keerthi was not present at that time. The police officers claimed that they knew nothing of the SSP's supposed visit to the station, and instructed Mr. Sirisena and his nephew to wait until Sergeant Keerthi's return. When Sergeant Keerthi did finally arrive, and was asked by Mr. Sirisena as to the whereabouts of the SSP, Sergeant Keerthi simply replied that he tricked Mr. Sirisena into coming to the station, so that he could arrest him. It was later revealed that Sergeant Keerthi had obtained a warrant for Mr. Sirisena's arrest from the Thambuththegama Magistrate's Court for failure to appear in court.

 

Mr. Sirisena was subsequently detained in the police lock-up. It is appropriate to draw the reader's attention at this point to prior charges brought against Mr. Sirisena over four years ago, for the alleged illicit felling of timber. He had been unable to appear before the court to face these charges on a number of occasions, and on 12 June 2006, was arrested by the Kekirawa police and produced before the Thambuththegama Magistrate, who fined Mr. Sirisena Rs. 1500 (USD  14). Unable to pay this amount, he was imprisoned. Later however, Mr. Sirisena's brother paid off the outstanding fine, and obtained his release from prison.

 

However, Mr. Sirisena claims that he cannot comprehend the reason behind his latest arrest, as his prior criminal case has been long concluded.

 

During his detention, Mr. Sirisena also alleged that the security guard of a local politician, and several policemen visited him in the lock-up, and urged him to "forgive" one Police Constable (PC) Jinadasa (one of his torturers, and who is currently serving his suspension). Mr. Sirisena's nephew had also received a telephone call from the same security guard, pressing him to immediately withdraw his uncle's criminal case against PC Jinadasa.

 

At around 1:00 pm of the next day (September 23), Mr. Sirisena was taken from the lock-up, and sat on a bench, where he was then told that he was going to be produced before the Magistrate. Mr. Sirisena's lawyers tried several times to dissuade the police from taking such an extreme measure in the absence of a clear-cut case against him. At around 1:45pm, Mr. Sirisena was produced before the Kekirawa Magistrate's Court and released on bail.

 

To this day, Mr. Sirisena has not been informed of the reason behind his arrest, detention and torture, but is of the strong opinion, that this was all a ruse on the part of the Kekirawa police to scare him into withdrawing his complaints against the two senior police officers who severely beat and tortured him.

 

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5. UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Alleged attempt to harm a torture victim by the perpetrators

 

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Update on Urgent Appeal

 

9 October 2006

 

[Re: UA-50-2003: Torture of 14 year old child by police officers, UP-37-2003: The family of 14-year-old torture victim threatened by the police and a local politician; UP-47-2003: SRI LANKA: Torture victim's family flees home due to police threats; UP-12-2005: SRI LANKA: Death threats to a torture victim's family from accused police officers]

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UP-193-2006: SRI LANKA: Alleged attempt to harm a torture victim by the perpetrators

 

SRI LANKA: Intimidation to torture victim; urgent need for protection to the victim; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information concerning yet another alleged attempt to harm the torture victim Duwandage Pushpakumara by the alleged perpetrators on 26 September 2006, when his case was heard at Chilaw High Court. This is not the first incident of intimidation made by the alleged perpetrators. Since filing the complaint against the accused officer, Pushpakumara and his family have been constantly threatened and have had to flee his home (UP-37-2003, UP-47-2003 and UP-12-2005). The victim, who was a 14-year-old boy at the time of the incident, was tortured by the then Officer-in-Charge and other officers of the Saliyawewa Police Post in Putlam on 1 September 2003 (UA-50-2003).

 

On 26 September 2006, D. Pushpakumara was accompanied by a few others to attend the Chilaw High Court from Kandy for the purpose of which they traveled in a van.  He had filed the complaint against Sub Inspector (SI) Samarakoon who was responsible for his torture in September 2003 (Case No. 24/2004 Chilaw High Court). On their way, they found that the son of the accused SI, who is also a police officer, with a gang of about ten to fifteen persons wearing civilian clothes followed their vehicle from Kandy in two vehicles. The two vehicles bore the registration numbers W.P.U.9562 and 262-9177 and there were also two motorcycles.  These persons came to court and the friends who accompanied the D. Pushpakumara noticed their presence and heard some of their conversations.

 

On the way back to Kandy after the court hearing, D. Pushpakumara and his group decided to take a different route so as to escape the gang that was following them.  However, the group of persons in the aforementioned vehicles kept following them. Fortunately, D. Pushpakumara's driver was able to change some routes and to go to Colombo instead of towards Kandy and thus avoided the gang that was following them.

 

The victim's case against the concerned SI has been before the Chilaw High Court for a long time and there have been many attempts in the past to pressurize the victim and his family to withdraw his complaints. For example, police officers of the Saliyawewa Police Post, as well as prominent politicians, are threatening to burn the family's house if they pursue the complaint on this matter (UP-37-2003). Later on, D. Pushpakumara and his parents had to flee due to threats from the police (UP-47-2003). Moreover, He also received several death threats from the accused SI and other police officers before the first hearing of the criminal case against the concerned SI at the Chilaw High Court on 9 February 2005 (UP-12-2005).

 

The AHRC was also informed that there was also pressure on the human rights groups who are supporting the victim. We brought this to the notice of the police and other Sri Lanka authorities on earlier occasions but no serious action has yet taken to stop constant threats to D.  Pushpakumara. Considering previous threats and harassment, we strongly believe that this was an attempt to kidnap the victim or do him harm. The AHRC therefore urges the Sri Lankan authorities to provide immediate and effective protection to the victim and take urgent action against those responsible for the threats to the victim.

 

Meanwhile, the accused SI is trying to prevent the case from being taken up in court.  On many occasions when the case was to be taken up, he disappeared from the premises of the court and later sent in medical reports.

 

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6. SRI LANKA: A torture victim is threatened by police to withdraw his complaint

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

12 October 2006

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UA-338-2006: SRI LANKA: A torture victim is threatened by police to withdraw his complaint

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; intimidation to witness; failure of investigation; impunity; failure of rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a man from Galle, Sri Lanka, who tried to register the case of robbery, rather brutally assaulted by one sub inspector (SI) of the Deputy Inspector General (DIG)-Galle Office on 24 August 2006. The victim is receiving threats from the Assistance Superintendent Police (ASP), who inquired about his complaint, after he attempted to lodge a complaint against the concerned SI. It is alleged that the ASP further threatened victim that he would be abducted and subsequently disappeared if he pursue the case.

 

A robbery case took place at the house of Mr. Wasantha Kumara's aunt in Pamunugamuwa, Tal-ambara, Matara, Sri Lanka. On 29 June 2006, Mr Kumara complained with the Weligama police regarding the incident station about the incident (Case ref. no.: MOIB 169/25). Although the police had an eyewitness who identified a suspect, the officer of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the Wasantha police station allegedly suggested the victim to drop the case. Disturbed by the police inaction, Mr. Kumara and his aunt complained the case with the Assistant Police Superintendent of Akuressa on 4 July 2006, then with the assistant police superintendent of Matara on 27 July 2006, and to the Police Headquarter in Colombo on 28 July 2006. When he visited the police HQ second time to inquire about the case, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Jayasundara advised Mr. Kumara and his aunt to complaint to the Galle GIC, Mr. Jayantha Gamage.

 

On 24 August 2006, Mr. Kumara accompanied by his aunt went to the office of the South province Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Mr. Jayantha Gamage in Galle to lodge the complaint. However, there they were kept waiting for more than 6 hours from 9:30am to 3:45pm, while some other people who came late were allowed to go in. Mr. Kumara then inquired from Sub Inspector Nishanka why they were kept waiting for so long and informed him that he came here upon the instruction from the police HQ. However, the SI Nishanka became abusive and shouted at Mr. Kumara to go back to Colombo and settle the matter on his own. He also refused to let Mr. Kumara and his aunt meet with the DIG. When Mr. Kumara protested this unjust act, SI Nishanka punched hard Mr. kumara's face and continued to beat his face several times. Mr. Kumara felt faint and his aunt escorted him outside the office.

 

Later Mr. Kumara was warded at the Karapitia Hospital due to severe pain caused by the assault. In hospital, he was examined by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) and later Chief Inspector (CI) Pushpakumara from the Galle police station visited the victim in the hospital and recorded his statement regarding the police assault. The CI then asked the victim's aunt to bring him to the police station as soon as he was discharged from the hospital. Upon instruction, on 31 August 2006, Mr. Kumara along with his aunt went to the Galle police station where CI Pushpakumara referred them to ASP Mr. Kumaratunga of Range III.

 

While inquiring the incident, the ASP Kumaratunga allegedly told Mr. Kumara, "I will find the stolen goods for you; I will also give a warning to the policeman who assaulted you; but are you willing not to pursue the matter any further?" When Mr. Kumara refused to do so, the ASP got angry and ordered his aunt to leave the room. He then threatened Mr Kumara not to get on the wrong side of the police and warned that it was not a good thing to antagonize police because the ASP was even empowered to cause the abduction and disappearance of a person like him. The ASP then called a typist and dictated a written statement himself to which Mr. Kumara was forced to sign. Mr. Kumara did so as he feared for further assault by the senior police officer. Till date, no progress happened any of the robbery case as well as his torture case.

 

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7. UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Police investigation of a severe torture case drags on with no transparency

 

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

Update on Urgent Appeal

 

18 October 2006

 

[RE: UA-141-2004: SRI LANKA: A man arbitrarily assaulted by the SI of the Horana Police Station without any reason, UP-051-2006: SRI LANKA: Justice continues to evade victim one and a half years after his assault and UP-165-2006: SRI LANKA: Authorities fail to prosecute perpetrator, while the HRC recommends derisory compensation]

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UP-197-2006: SRI LANKA: Police investigation of a severe torture case drags on with no transparency

 

SRI LANKA: Undue delay in police investigation; no impartiality and transparency of the investigation; denial of justice; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received updated information concerning the fact that a torture victim is suffering from denial of justice due to the lack of an impartial police investigation into his case. As far as we have confirmed, the inquiry officer in this case is the person in charge of the police station where the victim had been tortured, and the prosecution officer is from the same division where the concerned police station is located. The police inquiry into this case has dragged on.  Two years have passed since the actual torture incident and the victim says that he has lost all hope of getting justice in this case due to this undue delay and the lack of transparency of the investigation.

 

Mr. Rathnasiri Senadheera was brutally tortured by Sub Inspector Saliya, the then Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Horana police station, on 29 September 2004, while visiting his brother who was in police custody (See further: UA-141-2004). After the incident, he complained to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission (NPC) and Attorney General (AG) regarding his arbitrary arrest and torture by the said SI.

 

The HRC conducted an inquiry into the incident (inquiry no. HRC/5048/04/I(iv)) and on July 4, 2006, recommended that derisory compensation - Rs. 5000 (USD 50) - be provided by the respondent, SI Saliya, to the petitioner (the victim). A copy of HRC's recommendation was sent to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the AG and the NPC for suitable disciplinary and legal action to be taken against the concerned SI. However, to date, no action has been taken by any of the aforementioned authorities and the alleged perpetrator continues to enjoy complete impunity (see further: UP-165-2006).

 

Meanwhile, the police inquiry into Mr. Senadheera's case is being dragged on and on and has not been completed even though two years have passed since the actual incident (UP-051-2006). The victim suspects that the undue delay of the police inquiry is due to the biased behavior of the inquiry and prosecution officers of his case. He reported that the inquiry officer working on his case is the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in charge of supervising the Horana police station where he had been tortured, and the prosecution officer is the Headquarters Inspector (HQI) of the Panadura police station which is in the same division as that of the Horana police station. Considering the fact that the concerned SI was the former OIC of the Horana police station, it can be assumed that the inquiry and prosecution officers are colleagues of the alleged perpetrator.

 

For example, the AHRC was informed by Mr. Senadheera that on September 4, 2006 he received a letter (ref S 34/2006) requesting him, along with other witnesses, to attend a departmental inquiry conducted against the perpetrator by ASP Nagahamulla of Horana district. The inquiry was to be conducted at the Office of the Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) of Panadura division at 10:00am on 11 September 2006. However, when Mr. Senadheera together with three other witnesses went for the said inquiry at 10 am, ASP Nagahamulla was not in his office and they waited more than 12 hours until 11:15 pm. As the inquiry officer, ASP Nagahamulla had still not arrived at the office for the inquiry. Mr. Senadheera and the other witnesses then left the police station.

 

Mr. Senadheera says that he no longer maintains any faith in the police inquiry and wonders what justice can be expected under the current circumstances. He complained to the SSP of the Panadura division, the IGP and the NPC regarding the negligent attitudes of the inquiry officer and also raised his concerns about the impartiality of the police inquiry with them. However, he has not received any response from these authorities to date.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write a letter to the relevant officials listed below and urge them to take immediate action to ensure that the alleged perpetrator, SI Saliya of the Horana police, is made to pay adequate compensation to the victim, in line with international standards. The Human Rights Commission should re-evaluate its recommendation concerning the amount involved in this compensation and other cases to ensure that adequate standards of reparation are in place. Furthermore, the authorities must be urged to ensure that a criminal case is filed against SI Saliya in the Magistrate's Court of Horana. The IGP and NPC must take immediate disciplinary action against SI Saliya as well as the police station's Officer in Charge (OIC).

 

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8. UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Improper and biased manner of police inquiry into a torture case

 

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Update on Urgent Appeal

 

8 November 2006

 

[RE: UA-241-2006: SRI LANKA: Illegal arrest, brutal torture and fabrication of charges by the Kalutara South police]

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UP-206-2006: SRI LANKA: Improper and biased manner of police inquiry into a torture case

 

SRI LANKA:  Poor quality of police inquiry; torture; un-rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the completely improper and biased police inquiry into the torture case of 19-year-old Dhanuka Tisara, who was brutally tortured by the Kalutara South police on 2 July 2006 (See further: UA-241-2006). The victim and his family say that they do not expect any justice in his case after experiencing the sham that has come to be known as a 'a police inquiry'.

 

On 2 July.2006, Dhanuka Tisara was arbitrarily arrested by the Kalutara South Police, taken to the police station on the accusation of committing murder without any evidence to support this. He was then brutally tortured by the police who tried to extract a confession. He was later released on the same day without charges being filed against him.

 

After he submitted to his written complaints regarding his case to Inspector General of Police (IGP) and police department, Dhanuka Tisara received a notice to appear before the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Horana by 10:00am on 27 October 2006 for an inquiry into the complaint. On that day, he went to the ASP's office along with his mother Malini Soysa in time but they were made to wait for 1 ½ hours.

 

At about 11:30am, a policeman began recording the statements of Mr. Tisara and his mother. But according to the victim's mother, the policeman, instead of inquiring into the details of the victim's brutal torture, asked questions, which were totally irrelevant and in fact degrading to them. These questions include (i) details of Ms. Soysa’s parents and her children, (ii) where she gave birth to Mr. Tisara, (iii) whether she was legally married at the time of his birth, etc.

 

The policeman had also perused a document written in English (that is considered to be from the AHRC) and commented, “so you are taking legal action with the help of some Asian organisation (presumably the AHRC). He also commented, “those from Pinwatte commit wrong and then run for human rights heh?” Tisara alleges that he also referred to the other children in the family in a disparaging manner. At the same time, the policeman recorded few details of the actual incident and asked them to leave.

 

The victim and his mother had a strong impression that the inquiry was conducted in a biased and improper manner in favour of the alleged perpetrators. They say that if a police inquiry is not held in a proper and professional manner, they will refuse to attend any of future inquiries because there is no point in doing so.

 

-----------------------

 

9. SRI LANKA: Torture of a 15-year-old boy from Batuwatte by members of the police

 

URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION –

 

16 November 2006

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UA-372-2006: SRI LANKA: Torture of a 15-year-old boy from Batuwatte by members of the police

 

SRI LANKA: torture; arbitrary detention; death threats; impunity; children's rights

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the arbitrary and illegal detention and use of death threats and torture against a 15-year-old boy, Chamara Nuwansiri, from Batuwatte, Bangalawatte, by police officers in Balangoda. This reportedly took place following an attack on his family at their home by several people. The boy was detained at the Balangoda police station when he, his mother and two brothers went to the police station to lodge a complaint about the attack on their house. Police officers reportedly tortured him while he was in custody and forced him to confess to a theft that he had not committed. The boy has now been charged with the crime of theft based on this confession and has been released on bail. The boy was also threatened by the police not to talk about the assault after he was released.

 

On October 3 at around 10:15pm, several people from the Batuwatte area came to the house of Chamara Nuwansiri, a 15-year-old boy, in Batuwatte, Bangalawatte, and attacked his family, including his mother and two brothers. The father of the family, who is a soldier in the army, was not at home at that time. The people who attacked the family first attempted to set fire to Chamara’s mother, however they failed to do so. They then start assaulting Chamara.

 

After the attackers had left, the family rushed to the Balangoda police station to lodge a complaint about the attack. As they were approaching the police station, Chamara saw the attackers talking with police officers at the station. At the police station, the family’s complaint was not received by the police and the family was ordered to go back home, but Chamara was told to stay.

 

Another person - known as “Chanaka” – is also alleged to have been with the attackers when they were talking with police officers at the police station. Chamara was brought to a room in the police station along with Chanaka and both were severely assaulted by police officers. The police officers accused both of them of stealing a purse of a person called “Samantha” and demanded that they reveal where it was.

 

Chamara, who reportedly did not steal the purse, was subjected to harsh interrogation as a result of which he admitted to stealing the purse because he could no longer tolerate the pain. Later on, Chamara and Chanaka were taken from the room where they had been interrogated to a place near the holding cells, they were forced to kneel on the floor with their hands handcuffed together for another three hours, after which time they were offered food. After the meal they were again handcuffed together and taken to a cell.

 

When Chamara made a request to use the toilet outside of the cell (which is more sanitary than the one in the cell), the police officers answered him with abusive language and accused him of attempting to escape. At this point, the police officers reportedly hit Chamara using their fists and rubber hose pipes and kicked him repeatedly. Chamara was not handcuffed to Chanaka while he was being assaulted by police officers, but was again handcuffed to him after the assaults.

 

Chamara's father, Mr. M. Bandusiri, went to the police station later on that day, along with Chamara’s mother, to attempt to have their son released, however they failed.

 

Chamara and Chanaka were detained in the cell until around 6:00pm the next day (October 4, 2006). They were then moved to a warehouse, where they spent the night. On October 5, both of them were handcuffed together again, and locked in a holding cell. At around 3:00 pm on the same day, Samantha and several other people came to the police station and threatened Chamara. The police officers also said, “Tell the truth. If you tell the truth you can go home right now”. Chamara however did not bend to these threats and kept stating that he had been assaulted by the police and handcuffed with Chanaka in the cell.

 

On October 6, the police took Chamara and Chanaka's fingerprints and then produced them before the Balangoda Magistrate’s Court. At the court, they were charged with committing theft. Chamara was released on bail later the same day and his parents were told to take him to the probation office.

 

On October 7, Chamara was suffering from health problems and was brought to the Balangoda government hospital by his parents. Chamara complained to the medical doctor about the torture he had been subjected to by the police officers. On that evening, a police officer came to the hospital to see Chamara and threatened him by saying, “Don’t you say the police hit you; come to the police station later and sort it out; or else, we will dispose of you”. On October 8, 2006, Chamara told the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) and the hospital police that he had been tortured by the police when the police recorded his statement, and was examined by the JMO.

 

The AHRC strongly condemns the arbitrary and illegal detention and use of torture and death threats on 15-year-old Chamara Nuwansiri. The AHRC recalls that Sri Lanka is party to the United Nations Conventions on Torture and on the Rights of the Child. The Sri Lankan authorities are urged to immediately launch an investigation concerning these events, notably the arbitrary detention, torture and death threats to which Chamara Nuwansiri was subjected; to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that adequate reparation is provided to the victim, in line with international norms and standards.

 

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10. SRI LANKA: Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by the police of a man suffering from mental illness

 

URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION –

 

17 November 2006

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UA-373-2006: SRI LANKA: Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by the police of a man suffering from mental illness

 

SRI LANKA: Arbitrary and illegal detention; ill-treatment

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the arbitrary and illegal detention of a man suffering from mental illness at the Wadduwa police station. His detention is thought to have been carried out because of a conversation he allegedly had that upset the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the police station. The victim, Nishantha Perera, was detained in one of the police station's holding cells for over 9 hours, without being issued an official warrant of detention. The detention frightened the victim, reportedly causing him to become hysterical. As a result, the OIC allegedly stripped the victim naked and insulted him, before forcing him to run back home without any clothes on. His clothes and other belongings, including his wallet and National Identity card, are still being retained by the police.

 

At around 1:15pm on October 29, 2006, Nishantha Perera, a 29 year old man from Wadduwa, was having a conversation with the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Lalith Obeysekera at Wadduwa police station in the south of Sri Lanka. When Nishantha Perera reportedly made a remark about the current Sri Lankan president, OIC Obeysekera became upset and ordered other police officers to detain Mr. Perera. There was no official warrant issued for Mr. Perera’s detention.

 

Mr. Perera has reportedly been suffering from mental illness and has been under medication for six years. The detention affected him psychologically; frightening him and causing him to become hysterical, as a result of which he repeatedly kicked the partition between the holding cell and the toilet area.

 

At around 10:30pm that evening, after 9 hours of detention, Mr. Perera was released from the cell but was stripped naked and insulted by OIC Lalith Obeysekera. Subsequently, Mr. Perera was forced to run back to his home naked by Obeysekera.

 

Mr. M. Jayawathi Perera, the victim's father, was outraged by the illegal detention and inhuman and degrading treatment to which his son was subjected by the police, who reportedly knew of his psychological condition.

 

Mr. Perera has reportedly attempted to seek justice concerning the arbitrary detention and cruel and degrading treatment to which he was subjected, but his complaint has not been dealt with seriously; there has been no investigation into the case and his belongings have not been returned to him by the Wadduwa police.

 

The AHRC condemns the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Nishantha Perera, who suffers from mental illness. OIC Lalith Obeysekera, the senior officer who detained Mr. Perera without any legal basis, should immediately be investigated concerning his cruel and illegal actions.

 

 

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11. SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a man who was wrongly arrested by police officers

 

URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

20 November 2006

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UA-374-2006: SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a man who was wrongly arrested by police officers

 

SRI LANKA: torture in the custody: deficient investigation by police

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Dear Friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the torture of a man who was arrested falsely by police in Seeduwa, Negombo Division, Sri Lanka. The victim was arrested in relation to the charge of robbery of the house in Prasanna Sandaruwan which is under the area of control of the Seeduwa police station. The victim had allegedly claimed that he was not involved in the robbery.  However the police allegedly tortured him in order to force him to confess his involvement in this crime.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At around 11:30 am on 27 October 2006, several police officers took Mr. Pasquelge Don Dudley Mervyn, a 56-year-old casual labourer to the Seeduwa police station in Seeduwa. Negombo District II, Negombo Division, Sri Lanka and arrested him in charge related to a robbery of a house of Prasanna Sandaruwan, which Mr. Pasquelge claims that he did not commit. The mother of the victim, Mrs. Pasquelge Dona Violet Lilian, learned of the detention of her son in the evening of the day he was arrested.

 

When Lilian visited her son to the Seeduwa police station with food, Dudley told her that he had been severely tortured by police officers and had been forced to admit to the robbery that he did not commit. Lilian saw the injuries on his body and realised that her son was in great pain.

 

On November 2 when Lilian again visited the police station to see her son, she witnessed that he was not in the holding cell but was seated on a chair in the police mess and handcuffed to a steel bed by his right hand.

 

Shockingly, Dudley had been detained at the police station for 7 days until November 3 without being produced before a magistrate. A person arrested must be brought before court within 24 hours after the arrest according to law. Furthermore he had allegedly been tortured constantly by the police while he was in custody.

 

The AHRC demands that the brutal torture of a man who has been falsely charged should never be allowed to go unchallenged. This fact reveals the inefficiency of Sri Lankan police which does not have the training and capability to conduct investigations without resulting to brutal torture.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the relevant Sri Lankan authorities listed below to urge them to conduct an inquiry into this case of wrongful arrest and severe torture of a man by the police. Please also urge the government authorities to provide necessary compensation for the victim’s mental and physical pain due to severe assaults carried by police.

 

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12. UPDATE (Sri Lanka): 49 year-old male victim of illegal arrest allegedly being tortured and still under detention

 

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Update on Urgent Appeal

 

15 December 2006

 

[RE: UA-378-2006: SRI LANKA:  Man illegally arrested and held in secret detention by police]

-----------------------------------

UP-230-2006: SRI LANKA: 49 year-old male victim of illegal arrest allegedly being tortured and still under detention

SRI LANKA: arbitrary arrest and detention; torture; abuse of police power; collapse of the rule of law; forced disappearances

------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is calling for your immediate intervention into the alleged arbitrary detention of a 49 year-old man, Weligoda Ananda in the Welikada Magazine prison in Sri Lanka. It has been reported that the victim was severely tortured by while he was interrogated by police officers. Mr. Ananda was taken by police and arrested without being informed of the charges laid against him. He had been held in so called "secret detention" since police took him on November 8, and his family had not known his whereabouts until recently.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

In the past Urgent Appeal issued in November (UA-378-2006), the AHRC had reported the case of illegal arrest and detention of Mr. Weligoda Ananda that had happened on November 8 at the victim's house in the District of Gampaha, Western province. Mr. Ananda was arrested by 10 police officers in plain clothes from the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Peliyagoda and Divulapitiya detachments at around 11:30am on November 8. The family members were forced to leave the room by the police officers and went upstairs after they saw Mr. Ananda was handcuffed, however they heard the police officers questioning the victim and asking about some information on a telephone number.  They also heard the sounds of the victim being tortured.

 

Despite the family's pleadings to the police on the reason why the victim was arrested and where he will be taken for, the police did not give any answer to the family when they left the victim's house. The family had lodged complaints with several local police offices and the CID office asking them to search the victim. However, the police never treated their complaint seriously and they could never find his whereabouts.

 

A few days after the arrest, Indra Kanthi, the wife of the victim, received a telephone call from her husband saying that he was safe and that the police were treating him well and that he would be home soon. On November 15, she received another message from her husband via an unknown messenger. While on November 16, the Divulapitiya Police finally agreed to enter a complaint and went to Indra Kanthi’s residence to take a statement the following day.

 

The victim's whereabouts had not been known by the family since then until the Magistrate ordered the victim's wife to go to the Welikada Magazine Prison which is where the police indicated as the place where the victim had been detained.

 

The victim's wife visited the designated prison recently, and saw that her husband had wounds all around his body and had difficulty walking. The victim told his wife that he was tortured severely by police when he was arrested. Now the case was brought to the High Court in Negombo from the Magistrate Court, and we will be closely monitoring the trials.

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

 

Mr. Ananda has been arrested by police twice since 2005 including the arrest on 8 November 2006. The earlier arrest came after it was believed Mr. Ananda was involved in the murder of provincial council member Mr. Sunil Mendis of Ragama, Western Province. Mr. Ananda’s mobile phone was allegedly found at the scene of the crime. Although not charged with the murder, Mr. Ananda is accused of being an accomplice and was awarded bail on 2 September 2005.  

 

The AHRC condemns that the arrest without notifying the reasons and charges, detention in unknown place for over two weeks without being given complete legal access including access to the magistrate, and severe torture of Mr. Ananda consists of serious violations of rights. We therefore urge the concerned authorities to release Mr. Ananda immediately and make an investigation into the police officers who involved in his illegal arrest, detention and torture case.   This is another example of the Sri Lankan police abusing their powers and violating the laws of the country. Secret detention is illegal and those responsible must be held accountable.

 

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13. SRI LANKA: Alleged forced abduction of a man and brutal action against victim’s family by police

 

URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION –

 

15 December 2006

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UA-401-2006: SRI LANKA: Alleged forced abduction of a man and brutal action against victim’s family by police

 

SRI LANKA: disappearance: ill treatment of person by police: irresponsible actions by police to victim’s family

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the forced abduction of a man from Ranala, Sri Lanka in a notorious white van incident on 23 August 2006. The family members of the victim at the location of the abduction were also beaten with rifle butts, hands and feet. Several weeks before the victim's abduction the Office-in-Charge of Navagamuwa visited the victim's family and informed them that the victim was wanted for some robbery without producing any evidence of it. After the abduction the family members went to the police station to look for the victim, but failed to locate him. The police officers have never dealt with the complaints and the family's requests to see the victim, on the contrary, they have threaten the family members and showed no willingness to conduct an investigation into the abduction.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On August 23 2006, I.A. Nishantha Chandrasiri was abducted while he was visiting the house of a sister by six to seven persons who had come in a white coloured van. At the moment of abduction he and his family members were beaten with rifle butts, hands and feet. The family members were blamed as to why they allowed Nishantha Chandrasiri in their house. His hands were tied with a T shirt he was wearing and he was taken out to a van.

 

According to the family, some weeks before the abduction on August 23, the Office-in-Charge (OIC) of Navagamuwa had visited the family house of Nishantha Chandrasiri and told them that he was wanted for some robbery. However, the family is not aware of any such involvement.

 

The following day, those who were subjected to the beating went to Nishantha Chandrasiri's house and informed his wife, W. Dinasha Sangeewani Kumari about what had happened. With the sufficient suspicion that the victim might have been arrested by the Navagamuwa police, the victim's wife and brother went to Navagamuwa police station. They reached the station at 9:00a.m. and complained to the OIC. The OIC shouted at them asking, "Is it now that you have thought of the police and why have you come?" The two persons explained that had come to look for Nishantha Chandrasiri.

 

The OIC told them that, "We have not brought him. If we get hold of him, we will kill him. Even by now there won't even be pieces of him."

 

The OIC did not allow a statement to be recorded from them. He told them to go to other police stations and have a look. The two family members went to the Mirihana Police, the police stations at Hanwella, Athugiriya and Pelliyagoda but could not find him.

 

On the same day they visited the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and informed the commission that the Navagamuwa police had refused to take a statement. An officer from the commission talked to the Navagamuwa police and thereafter the victim's family members were asked to go back again to the station. At around 8:00p.m., they went and informed the officers the reason for their coming and then a statement was recorded. They left the police station at around 10:00p.m.

 

After about a week having received news that he was being kept at the Criminal Investigation Unit at Dematagoda the members of the family visited the place and were shown Nishantha Chandrasiri through a small peephole, seated on a bench in a dark room. They were not told any details and thereafter despite of all attempts they were unable to obtain any further information.

 

The family believes that the OIC of Navagamuwa is aware of what might have happened to Nishantha Chandrasiri. They visited the one-man Commission on Abductions and Disappearances appointed to look into disappearances, which is headed by Mr. Mahanama Thilakaratne, and made a complaint. The victim's aunt who had been at the incident site recorded her evidence.

 

All that the family has heard about this investigation is that the investigation is over and the report on it has been forwarded to the President of Sri Lanka. Despite of all the attempts by the victim's family in making complaints to the police, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the one-man Commission on Abductions and Disappearances the family has not been given any information on the whereabouts of Nishantha Chandrasiri.

 

The family requests that inquiries be held into the abduction and disappearance of the victim and that the state should find the victim, wherever he is. The family also requests the one-man Commission on Abductions and Disappearances, the police authorities and the President of Sri Lanka to let them know what has happened to Nishantha Chandrasiri.

 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the relevant Sri Lankan authorities to urge them to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation into the case of Nishantha's abduction and arrest. Also, please urge them to establish a fair investigation mechanism in order to prevent the recurrence of abductions.

 

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14. SRI LANKA: Man illegally arrested and assaulted by excise officers

 

URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

9 January 2007

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UA-009-2007: SRI LANKA: Man illegally arrested and assaulted by excise officers

 

SRI LANKA: arbitrary and illegal arrest, inappropriate investigation,

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the violent and arbitrarily arrest of a man being investigated by officers from the Excise Department on suspicion of being in possession of illicit liquor on 29 November 2006. The arresting officers had no warrant or evidence and proceeded to violently assault the victim in front of his family. The officials then forced the man to sign a statement without his knowledge of what the document read. It has also been reported that the victim was refused the right to lodge a complaint about the incident and has since been presented before the court on false charges laid by the alleged perpetrators.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

About 4:00 am on 29 November 2006, five mysterious men including one in uniform began pounding on the door of Mr. R.H. Dhanapala's home while he and his family were asleep. At the sound of shouting, one of the victim’s children opened the door. The five men entered the house and identified themselves as officers from the ‘Excise Department’. One man who was wearing civilian cloths then pulled Mr. Dhanapala by his sarong and shouted, "come on, show us where the kasippu (illicit liquor) barrels are!"

 

Mr. Dhanapala maintained that he was not in possession of any kasippu. The officers then verbally abused him in front of his family and began assaulting him on his head. When Mr. Dhanapala's children began screaming in fear, the officers dragged him outside the house only after they had forcibly obtained the signatures of the victim and his wife without informing them of what they were signing.

 

The excise officers then took Mr. Dhanapala to a nearby shrubbery and pressed hard upon him, demanding to know where the barrels of kasippu were. When Mr. Dhanapala continued to insist that he had no idea, the officers grabbed him by his beard and hair. They then began to severely assault him with their fists and kicked him with their boots.

 

Meanwhile, officers took a second person into custody and brought that man to the same shrubbery and brutally assaulted him and Mr. Dhanapala with a pole. At that time, Mr. Dhanapala saw that two barrels of kasippu were presented there but did not know where the police got these barrels from. The officers then took that man and Mr. Dhanapala back to the other man's house and told Mr. Dhanapala that he would be charged in court. He was then released and instructed to be present at the Ratnapura courts on 14 December 2006.

 

On 30 November 2006, Mr. Dhanapala who was accompanied with his employer Shantha Kumara, visited the Ratnapura Excise Department to lodge a complaint regarding the incident. They were informed that the relevant officer was not in and were told to return on 5 December 2006 at 9:00 am. When they returned on December 5, one of the officers who had arrested and assaulted Mr. Dhanapala came forward and verbally abused both Shantha Kumara and Mr. Dhanapala. Furthermore, Mr. Dhanapala's compliant was not accepted.

 

On 14 December 2006, Mr. Dhanapala went to the Ratnapura courts where he discovered that he had been falsely charged with the possession of illicit liquor. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was enlarged on bail by the court. The case has been fixed for 18 January 2007.

 

According to Mr. Dhanapala, ever since the incident, his children who had seen him assaulted and dragged out of their house have been suffering from mental trauma and are now living in fear.

 

Mr. Dhanapala has complained in writing to the IGP, Commissioner General of Excise, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and other relevant authorities regarding the illegal arrest, assault and fabrication of charges against him. He is requesting that these authorities take immediate legal and disciplinary measures against the errant excise officers.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

In similar cases involving the sale of illicit liquor reported on by the AHRC (UA-248-2006 and UA-091-2006), officers from various authorities visit the alleged person's house in the middle of the night or early morning without any warrant or evidence. Since the officers do not have any specific real evidence, the method of investigation is not through the legal process but by using violence in order to extract a confession, which is then used as the only legal evidence at trial. The officers also force the arrested persons to sign a written statement that consists of information that they are not read. Eventually, the alleged person is presented at the court in accordance with the statement which he/she has forcibly signed. This illegal process is an endemic issue that has encroached upon the entire legal system in Sri Lanka.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to launch an immediate and impartial investigation into this case and take action to prosecute the responsible officers as soon as possible. Also, please urge them to establish a fair investigation mechanism in order to prevent the recurrence of illegal arrests and violent investigations.

 

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15. SRI LANKA: A brutal killing of a pastor by the security forces in Jaffna

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

24 January 2007

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UA-024-2007: SRI LANKA: A brutal killing of a pastor by the security forces in Jaffna

 

SRI LANKA: Extrajudicial killing; impunity; un-rule of law

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the alleged brutal killing of a young Christian pastor by the security forces in Jaffna on 13 January 2007. The army initially claimed that they killed a terrorist in self-defence.  Now they have changed their version of the story claiming that the pastor was shot because he did not follow the soldiers' instruction to stop.  However it is known that he is a well-known pastor in the area. No serious action has yet been taken to investigate the incident and no arrests have been made.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

Rev. Nallathamby Gnanaseelan, 38-year-old pastor of Tamil Mission Church in Jaffna, was brutally gunned down, allegedly by Sri Lankan security forces at the road block at Library junction, Wembedy School Road, Jaffna at around 10:30am on 13 January 2007. On that fateful Saturday morning, he had gone on his motorbike to Jaffna hospital with his wife Serena and his eldest daughter who was sick. He had left the mother and daughter at the hospital at about 10:00am asking them to return home by bus after the medical treatment was over. 

 

The killing took place at Chapel Street when Rev. Gnanaseelan was heading to his church to conduct a day long prayer-fast at the church. According to the eyewitnesses, Rev. Gnanaseelan was shot in the stomach and then as he lay on the street, shot in the head and killed by the soldiers on duty stationed at the Wembady-Library Junction. The soldiers were sauntering along Chapel Street at that time. His Bible, bag, ID card and motorcycle were taken away and he was left lying on the road. Eyewitnesses say that the pastor had not done anything provocative.

 

According to the online report of Sunday Leader newspaper, Rev. Gnanaseelan's body lay on the road for more than an hour till he was officially discovered by the police at around 11:30am. The acting Jaffna District Judge M. Thirunavukkarasu went to the scene for a preliminary inquiry and instructed police to trace the victim's identity. The "unidentified' body was the taken to the Jaffna hospital morgue.

 

On the following day, the family was looking for the missing pastor. Some parishioners were informed by the police that an unidentified body was lying at the morgue. The family members went to the morgue and found the pastor's body there.

 

The soldiers on duty at Wembady Road Junction reported that that Rev. Gnanaseelan was carrying explosives. On January 13, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) website www.nationalsecurity.lk posted a brief news item that one person, who was to be searched at the road block at Library junction, Wembedy School Road, Jaffna, attempted to hurl a hand grenade and the troops shot him dead in self-defence. It is also claimed that a grenade was found in the pastor's possession. The Defence Ministry had posted a similar story on its website www.defence.lk on January 13.

 

However, it is reported that the Sri Lankan military changed their claims after they discovered that the dead man was a well-known Christian pastor. Now it is claimed that the pastor was shot because he did not stop when the soldiers instructed him to do so. However, the AHRC has a view that this is a deliberate attempt by the security forces to frame Rev. Gnanaseelan and justify his killing.

 

The two news items mentioned above have reportedly been deleted from those websites.

 

It is also reported that military officials pressured the pastor's wife to sign some documents but she refused to do so.

 

In its statement, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance wrote "Rev. Gnanaseelan was a member of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance Clergy Fellowship in Jaffna and was not involved in any political activity. He was a law abiding citizen and the pastor to his congregation." The statement also said that "His death is not an isolated incident, but one of many, which takes place in the North East of Sri Lanka, daily."

 

The statement further said that "Jaffna recently has been the scene of extra judicial killings, abductions and disappearances" and appealed to the international community "to raise their voices and prevent the massacre of the innocents in this country and to establish a United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka is urgent need."

 

Rev. Gnanaseelan was survived by his wife and four children. The oldest daughter is seven years old and youngest is one year old.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and express your concern about this serious case.  Please urge them to order a thorough and impartial inquiry into the case and take legal action against the alleged perpetrators.

 

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16. SRI LANKA: Alleged brutal assault of a man by the Panadura police

 

URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION- URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

8 February 2007

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UA-044-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged brutal assault of a man by the Panadura police 

 

SRI LANKA: Arbitrary arrest and detention; torture; impunity

-----------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received yet another alleged torture of a young man by the police in Sri Lanka. According to the information we have received, Mr. A. Dushmantha Silva (29) residing in Temple Road, Dibedda, Panadura was tortured by the Panadura police after his arbitrary arrest on 3 February 2007. After being released on police bail on February 4, the victim lodged his complaints to various government authorities including the Inspector General of Police but no serious action has yet been taken to investigate the incident and arrest the alleged perpetrators so far.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

Mr. A. Dushmantha Silva is a 29--year-old manual worker living in Temple Road, Dibedda, Panadura, Sri Lanka. On 3 February 2007 about 3pm, he was on his way to a motor garage to buy a silencer for his motorcycle when he was illegally arrested by four policemen from the Panadura police lead by Sub Inspector (SI) Upul Kumara. The policemen then allegedly assaulted him all over his body with a length of rubber (a three wheel vehicle door beading), while demanding that he tell them where he hidden the illicit liquor. Mr. Silva insisted he was no longer engaged in that illegal business but the policemen did not listen to him and continued to brutally assault him. After that he was handcuffed and taken to a shrubbery nearby where the police had allegedly recovered several barrels of illicit liquor, a gas stove and cylinder. They put these implements into a hand-tractor and proceeded to the police station.

 

At the police station, Mr. Silva was fingerprinted and locked up in a holding cell. At about 11:30am on February 4, the police took Mr. Silva to the Panadura Hospital, where presumably they hoped to fraudulently obtain the 'all clear' for a remand order from the court. However Mr. Silva complained to the doctor regarding the police assault and the doctor requested him to show his injuries. Mr. Silva removed his shirt and showed the doctor the marks on his back. Later the doctor requested him to leave the room and had a long animated conversation with the policemen who escorted Mr. Silva to hospital. Mr. Silva believes the doctor must have refused to sign the medico-legal form enabling his remand, because the police simply brought him back to the police station and threatened him with death if he approached any human rights organisation regarding his case. The police then recorded his statement and released him on bail. The police also ordered him to appear in court on 9 February 2007.

 

As soon as he was released, Mr. Silva rushed to the Kalubowila Hospital, where he complained about the police assault. On February 5, Mr. Silva complained about his case to the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who recorded his statement and afforded him a medico-legal form which he took to the hospital. Later he was examined by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) to whom he again complained about the police assault.

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Silva has lodged written complaints to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission, the Office of the Inspector General of Police (Inspector General of Police) and other relevant government authorities demanding action against his torture perpetrators and adequate compensation for the serious injuries sustained from torture. No serious action has yet been taken to investigate the incident and arrest the alleged perpetrators so far.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant government authorities listed below and urge them to order an immediate and fair investigation into this matter and prosecute the alleged perpetrators.

 

-----------------------

 

17. SRI LANKA: Torture victim continues to be victimized more than three years after incident due to prolonged court delays

 

URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION- URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

12 February 2007

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UA-050-2007: SRI LANKA: Torture victim continues to be victimized more than three years after incident due to prolonged court delays

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; delay of justice; impunity

-----------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed of an unacceptable delay of justice in the case of a young man, Udayanga Perera, who was arrested and subjected to severe torture by policemen attached to the Wewelwatte police post under the Ratnapura police station on 7 August 2003. Udayanga subsequently launched a complaint to relevant authorities, including the Human Rights Commission (HRC), but the due process of his case was allegedly foiled by the Ratnapura police on multiple occasions. Not only did they fabricate a false charge against him, trying to force his complaint withdrawal, but they also failed to forward relevant case documents to the Magistrate Court for a length of two and a half years after he refused to settle his case through the Meditation Board. Later, when the case was finally to be heard at the Magistrate Court, the accused (police officers) did not appear on four separate court dates, thereby causing postponement of the trial, and the police failed to arrest and produce the accused before the court as required by law. The Ratnapura police have clearly and purposefully caused the delay of justice in this case.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 7 August 2003, Udayanga Perera, an 18-year-old schoolboy at the time, was arrested and subjected to severe torture by policemen attached to the Wewelwatte police post. As a result, Udayanga suffered injuries to his ear and had to be warded for several days at the Ratnapura hospital. Later, he lodged a complaint regarding the incident to the relevant authorities, including the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

 

Udayanga says, the Ratnapura police then fabricated a false charge against him and several others before the Ratnapura Magistrate's Court (Case No B1318/03; 54821), namely for causing minor harm to a policeman. Subsequently, the police officer in charge (OIC) of Wewelwatte police post then allegedly told Udayanga that the police were willing to withdraw the case against him in exchange for his withdrawing his own complaint before the HRC. However, Udayanga refused to any such suggestions, and as a result, the case was referred to the Mediation Board on 21 January 2004 for possible settlement.

 

When the case was called on 22 February 2004, Udayanga refused to settle the case, and thus the Mediation Board sent the case via the police back to the Ratnapura Magistrate's Court. However, for the next two and a half months, the police mysteriously failed to forward these case documents to the Magistrate Court, though clearly required to do so by law.

 

This was an unacceptable situation to Udayanga who was anxious to clear his name and move on with his life. Therefore, on 28 August 2006, he forwarded a motion through his lawyer to the court, requesting that his case be called up before the court. The Ratnapura Magistrate Court has since called in the case 4 separate times—i.e. 18 September 2006, 16 October 2006, 29 November 2006, and 17 January 2007. However, the case was unfortunately postponed on each of these dates due to the non-appearance of the complainant (the police). The Magistrate then issued a warrant for the arrest and production before the court of the accused, but according to Udayanga, the police are deliberately shirking their responsibilities in executing this warrant, despite the fact that the complainant has been seen in the vicinity. Udayanga claims that this purposefully caused court delay is a further attempt by the police to harass him.

 

Therefore, Udayanga has once again complained to the Inspector General of Police, Attorney General and the National Police Commission, and the HRC about this extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs and furthermore, demands that the Ratnapura police be made to act in accordance with the law and to proceed with the case.  However, no process has been made so far.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write the relevant Sri Lankan authorities below and demand that the court assure the compliance of the Ratnapura police to its warrant so that Udayanga's case may proceed and the accused brought to justice before the law. Also, please urge the authorities to prosecute those officers involved in the interference of the timely due process of law.

 

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18. SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan Navy allegedly attacks, arrests and assaults twelve fishermen from Negombo

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

12 February 2005

-------------------------------------

UA-049-2007: SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan Navy allegedly attacks, arrests and assaults twelve fishermen from Negombo 

 

SRI LANKA: Illegal arrests; destroy of property; arbitrary detention  

-------------------------------------

 

AHRC 2006 Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka

http://material.ahrchk.net/hrreport/2006/SriLanka2006.pdf

 

-----------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned of an alleged unprovoked attack by the Sri Lankan Navy on two groups of six fishermen from Negombo on January 27 and again on 28 January 2007 respectively.  The fishermen were allegedly arrested, assaulted and had one of their boats destroyed.  The navy has also publicly branded the fishermen as supporters of militant groups and the media has shown little interest in helping the victims clear their reputation.  The fishermen are now afraid to return to work, putting their families in jeopardy since they are dependent on the fishing industry to sustain their livelihoods. As of 3 February 2007, six of the fishermen still remain in detention. 

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 27 January 2007 at 4:00 am, six fishermen set out from Negombo and stationed themselves 20 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast and outside the high security zone that is patrolled by government forces.  They then dropped their nets and hoped to catch a fish called Piyamassan.  At around 6:30 am, the fishermen noticed a navy ship approaching at which point the men raised a flag to inform them that they were fishermen and had nets in the water. The fishermen noticed the navy open fire on another boat in the area which then caught fire. The navy then approached the fishermen and demanded that they all jump into the sea and remove their clothing.  The government forces then allegedly tied the victims' hands behind their backs and brought them back to land. The men were allegedly blindfolded and assaulted during an interrogation that lasted until 4:30 pm, at which point they were placed in a holding cell. 

 

The following day on 28 January 2007, the victims were released into their families care but did not have their boats or fishing equipment returned.  Meanwhile, another six fishermen where arrested with two of their boats seized by the navy. One of the boats was allegedly destroyed while the navy conducted a search.  The fishermen' families have been informed that the Anti-terrorist Investigation Unit is questioning the men; however, they have been denied access to the victims and still have not seen them.  As of 3 February 2007, the fishermen had not been released from custody.    

 

Six fishermen who are still detained are; Mr. W.S. Anthony Raja (35), Mr. W.S. Jude Sampath (21), Mr. W.S. Sumith Thamel (28), Mr. Anthony Tyrrone Fernando (28), Mr. Sivanaiah Ranjith (24) and Mr. W.S. Luckshman Newton Fenrando (25). Six fishermen, who had been arrested but later released, are; Mr. Anthony Fernando (34), Mr. Lukshman (26), Mr. Peases Pieris, Mr. Terrence Anthony, Mr. Ranjith and Mr. Selvar Kumar.

 

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Navy publicly stated that the fishermen often receive payment from the Tamil Tiger militant group in exchange for information. The statement was published by the Lankadeepa newspaper and as a consequence has severely damaged the fishermen's reputation.  When the fishermen tried to clear their name by calling a news conference that was organised by the All Ceylon Fisheries Union (ACFU), only three journalists attended the event. The men are now afraid to go back to work out of fear that they have been branded militant sympathisers and will be targeted again by government forces. Many of the fishermen are the sole provider for their family and as a result now face a grave challenge to their livelihoods. 

 

The AHRC condemns the alleged mistreatment of these twelve fishermen and urges the Sri Lankan government to immediately launch an independent investigation into this blatant attach on innocent people.  The AHRC also demands that the six fishermen who are currently detained are immediately released into the care for their family. The AHRC further urges that the government do everything in its power to clear the reputation of these fishermen and fully compensate them for any destroyed equipment, lost revenue and trauma that they have received.

 

At the moment in Sri Lanka, the nationalist sentiments have been aroused by the media and right wing elements. Under the situation, any person accused of having connections with the "enemy" can be a target of attack or many victims of human rights abuses are labelled as "LTTE terrorist" by the alleged perpetrators to cover up the violations. The case of Rev. Nallathamby Gnanaseelan in Jaffna can be a good example. The pastor was shot dead in daylight without any reason by soldiers, who later tried to cover up their crime, labelling him as a "LTTE terrorist" who attempted to throw a hand grenade at soldiers. Now the army authority has changed their version after knowing that the dead man is a well known pastor in the area (See further: UA-024-2007).   

Please also refer to the AHRC statement: AS-029-2007.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

_____________

 

19. SRI LANKA: Brutal assault of an innocent man by the Dodangoda police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

21 February 2007

--------------------------------------------------

UA-055-2007: SRI LANKA: Brutal assault of an innocent man by the Dodangoda police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; police no investigation into incident; impunity; command responsibility

-------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received yet another brutal assault of an innocent young man by the Sri Lankan police. We were informed that without any reason, Mr. A.A. Priyantha Kumara (27) was allegedly subjected to serious assault by the Dodangoda police at the Madabada junction in Dodangoda, Kalutara district III, Kalutara division, Sri Lanka on 12 February 2007. He was hospitalized for 9 days due to injuries sustained from the assault. Even though he and his mother lodged a complaint to various government authorities including the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, National Police Commission and Inspector General of Police, no action has yet been taken to investigate the case and arrest responsible policemen. We were further informed that the victim and his family members are receiving threats and intimidation by the Dodangoda police who requested them to withdraw the complaint against the policemen.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 12 February 2007, Mr. A.A. Priyantha Kumara (27) was returning home from work and had just visited a boutique at the Madabada junction in Dodangoda, Kalutara district III, Kalutara division, Sri Lanka to buy some biscuits. He then saw three policemen from the Dodangoda police station standing in front of the shop. Two were security assistants (home guards) one of whom he recognized as 'Rukmal'. The third was in police uniform.

 

The policeman confronted him and asked, "What are you doing?" To which Mr. Kumara replied he was on his way home. The policeman told him to stand up straight and allegedly slapped him soundly on his face and also assaulted him on his head. Mr. Kumara queried as to what he had done wrong and why he was being assaulted. But the officials did not answer but continued to assault him on his head. They shouted at him in filthy language saying, "‘you do not know us… Do not rouse the devil in us".

 

Mr. Kumara was still quite unaware of why he was assaulted and afterwards, slowly walked towards Matugama. Luckily three persons acquainted with him named, Manju, Karunathilake and Upul, saw him and after being told about the assault rushed him to the Nagoda Hospital where he was warded in Ward No 5B. Mr. Kumara was warded for 9 days in the hospital and remembers vomiting several times.

 

At hospital he was examined by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), who together with policemen attached to the hospital police post recorded his statement. A policeman named, Gunasekera from the Dodangoda police station also recorded his complaint. Mr. Kumara says this policeman was not wearing a registration number.

 

On February 17, Mr. Kumara's mother met the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Dodangoda police station and lodged a compliant which had been reluctantly recorded. But she says, she was forced by the police to sign the statement without being afforded an opportunity to read it or having it read over to her. On February 19, Mr. Kumara's mother attempted to meet with the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Kalutara division regarding the incident but she was unsuccessful.

 

To date, no action has been taken whatsoever about the complaints made by Mr. Kumara's mother. Now Mr. Kumara also alleges he has been threatened by the Dodangoda police to withdraw his complaints.

 

Subsequently, Mr. Kumara has lodged his written complaint to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, National Police Commission, the Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police-Legal division and Senior Superintendent of Police (Senior Superintendent of Police) of Kalutara division regarding the incident. The victim requested these authorities to take immediate and appropriate legal and disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators for needlessly assaulting him. He also requested them to take measures to ensure that the harassment and threats meted out to him is stopped immediately. However, he has received no response from any of these authorities so far.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant Sri Lankan authorities listed below and demand their urgent intervention into this case. Please demand the proper investigation to be launched immediately and strong action to be taken against the alleged perpetrators. Please also request them to ensure the security of the victim and his family members.  

 

------------------

 

20.SRI LANKA: Brave woman exposes the unlawful arrest, detention and torture of a young fisherman

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

9 March 2007

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UA-076-2007: SRI LANKA: Brave woman exposes the unlawful arrest, detention and torture of a young fisherman

 

SRI LANKA: Unlawful arrest; illegal detention; torture in police custody; false charges; physical abuse of a pregnant lady; impunity

------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the unlawful arrest and illegal detention of Mihindukulasuriya Varnapelige Maheshan Manojith Silva, a 20 year-old fisherman who was taken from his home by officers of the Kalutara police on 1 March 2007. No warrant was produced nor was he given any reason for his arrest. After the victim was taken to the Kalutara Police Station, his 18 year-old wife who is also eight months pregnant began a brave search for him in which she herself was allegedly physically abused by an Inspector of Police (IP) named Nimal Karunaratne.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On the morning of the 1 March 2007, two officers from the Special Unit of the Kalutara police went to the house of the victim Mihindukulasuriya Varnapelige Maheshan Manojith Silva. The officers were in civilian clothes and travelling by bicycle. When they detained Mr. Silva, they did not explain the reason for his arrest nor did they produce a warrant.  Mr. Silva was handcuffed and taken to the Kalutara Police Station. 

 

When the victim's wife Randeniyage Yureshani Damayanthi (18) asked why her husband was being arrested, she was told by one of the officers that if she wanted to know then she needed to go to the Kalutara South Police Station.

 

Accordingly, she went to the police station and asked Inspector of Police (IP) Udayanga why her husband was arrested.  She was told that her husband was not there and she should go and speak with IP Nimal Karunaratne at the office of the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). When Mrs. Damayanthi went to the ASP's Special Unit office, she discovered that one of the officers who had taken her husband into custody was present.  She asked again about her husband to the officers; however, they claimed that no such person had been brought there.

 

Mrs. Damayanthi did not give up and she insisted that the officer whom she was talking to was one of the police officers who arrested her husband. The officer then admitted that the victim was at the office and said that she could see her husband but could not speak to him.

 

The officer then brought her to a dark room where all the windows had been closed. There, she witnessed her husband handcuffed on a chair. She asked why he was brought there; IP Nimal Karunatne responded for him and said that he had stolen three bangles (bracelets). In retorting the remark, Mrs. Damayanthi strongly denied such accusations. However, the officer threatened her that he will arrest her since she was suspected for her involvement in the theft.

 

After the conversation, Mrs. Damayanthi was violently forced to leave. The officer strongly pushed the 8-month pregnant women by her stomach. The police used such force that it may have jeopardized the health of her soon to be born child. Then when she asked the officer not to beat her husband since he was still recovering from chicken pox, IP Nimal Karunaratne yelled at her with disrespectful language and said that her husband had a mistress.  The IP continued to verbally attack the women and said that her family was disgraceful. 

 

Later on, Mrs. Damayanthi informed her husband’s parents about the situation. The father of the victim went to the police station to see his son in the afternoon that same day.  However, IP Nimal Karunaratne threatened his life.

 

The victim's father left the police station and came back with a lawyer who was able to figure out that Mr. Silva was arrested on a charge of theft that had happened in Payagala. The IP Karunaratne said that the victim will be kept at the police station for further inquiry and that he will be handed over to the Payagala police.

 

The second time Mrs. Damayanthi visited the victim it was already after he was brought to the Payagala Police station. When she arrived at the station, she was not allowed to go inside of the building. When she refused to leave and continued to stay outside the police station she saw IP Nimal Karunaratne.

 

About an hour later, Mrs. Damayanthi was allowed to see her husband at the police station and heard that the victim was severely beaten by the IP Nimal Karunaratne and was forced to confess to the theft of several items from a house in Payagala. The victim's wife then asked the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Payagala about the original complaint made against her husband. She then learned from the OIC that the IP Nimal Karunaratne lodged a complaint accusing her husband of a robbery involving gold jewellery from the daughter of the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) named Camilus. However, when Mrs. Damayanthi visited Camilus to ask about the complaint made against her husband, she soon learned that the family had never made such a complaint. The next day, the victim was produced before the magistrate court and released on remand in the evening.

 

The AHRC condemns this police brutality and deplores the officers involved for arresting a man with no probable cause, evidence or warrant. As it has been recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest by the state authority and be tortured under any circumstances. The government of Sri Lanka should and must be held responsible for the violation of such rights as a state party to these international conventions.

 

Moreover, the AHRC urges the concerned authorities to conduct an immediate investigation into the alleged brutal actions of the Inspector of Police Nimal Karunaratne for his fabrication of charges and torture against the victim who did not commit any of the registered crimes filed against him.

 

The AHRC is aware of the newly introduced rule regarding the individual complaint against the brutal actions of police authorities including violent assault, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention that has been in effect since January 17 of this year. The victim in this case has already submitted a written complaint to several police authorities including the Chairman of the National Police Commission, the Inspector General Police and the Senior Superintendent of Police Kalutara office. The police authority is obliged to complete the investigation into the reported case of human rights violations (including torture) within thirty days from the receipt of complaint. The AHRC therefore expects the authorities to fulfil their obligation without delay and act in accordance with the new regulations.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write a letter to the offices listed below and demand a full investigation into the unlawful arrest, illegal detention and torture of Mihindukulasuriya Varnapelige Maheshan Manojith Silva without delay. Please also urge them to ensure that all the legal remedies will be provided for the victim and his family.

 

----------------

 

21. SRI LANKA: Illegal arrest and torture of a mentally retarded young man

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

26 March 2007

------------------------------------------------------

UA-097-2007: SRI LANKA: Illegal arrest and torture of a mentally retarded young man

 

SRI LANKA: Illegal arrest and detention; torture

------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to inform you the illegal arrest and torture of a mentally retarded young man in Akmeemana, Sri Lanka. The victim, P.K. Dammika, was illegally arrested by officers of Akmeemana police on 16 March 2007, he was accused of involvement in a theft case. During detention, Dammika was allegedly tortured and forced to confess; his family was also harassed, and his house was searched and raided. Although the residents of the house confirmed that the victim was completely unknown to them, he remained in police custody and was allegedly repeatedly tortured.

 

CASE DETAILS:

At around 2:00p.m. on 16 March 2007, the victim Dammika was on a bus with his mother, Haththatuwa Gamage Mallika and some other family members. He is 22 years old and mentally retarded. Mallika recalled that she saw a police officer in plain clothes named Laksiri, he shouted to them, “There is the thief, and must catch him.” When Dammika and his family got off the bus, four police officers in plain clothes arrested Dammika, and took him in a jeep to the Akmeemana police. Mallika asked why her son was taken, but she was only told to come to the police station.

 

During police custody, Dammika was allegedly assaulted and interrogated, despite his mental disability. He was asked about the location of the stolen goods, he replied that the goods were in his home. Dammika was then taken back home and asked to give out the stolen goods. Two police officers named Somapala and Bolai (ball) searched the almyraha, and took some imitations goods with them. While they were going to leave the house, the victim’s father told them that the goods were only imitations. The officers threw them away, and assaulted Dammika again. The victim’s parents tried to stop that, but they were assaulted too. The victim was then taken back to the police station.

 

On 17 March 2007, Mallika visited the victim in the police cell. She was told by an officer “not to wipe her thief son clean, and that mother and son both will be put into the lock up.” An officer known as Bolai then pushed her away. When the police officers were not there, Dammika told his mother that he was assaulted, and he was also threatened not to tell that to his mother.

 

Police officer Somapala then took a statement from Dammika. Somapala allegedly shouted at him, “Tell this woman, were you assaulted by us?” “Tell us at what price did you sell the golden goods? Tell that you took Rs 4,700 ( about US$ 43).” The victim then agreed to everything, and admitted that he had given everything to his mother. Somapala and the other officer then threatened Mallika to confess that she had brought the TV with the stolen money, and threatened that she and her son would be produced in court.

 

On the same day, Dammika was brought home by Akmeemana police again. He was asked again to show the location of the stolen goods. His father and the youngest brother were at home. Dammika again showed the police the imitation goods. The officers were very angry, and shouted to his father if he raised his children as thieves.

 

The officers then took the Dammika to the houses where the theft happened. The residents of the house said the victim was completely unknown to them. The officer again beat him and took him back to the police station.

 

On 19 March 2007, through Attorney-at-law Mohamed, the family learned that Dammika was produced to court. When Dammika met his parents, he was in a very bad condition and could hardly talk. He said he was assaulted again on his head, chest, hands and feet with baton poles.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the following authorities, and urge the immediate release of Dammika. Medical care should also be provided to him immediately. The police officers of Akmeemana police station who were involved in the incident should be investigated according to relevant disciplinary rules and laws; if the allegations are proved, they should be prosecuted accordingly.

 

----------------

 

22. SRI LANKA: Alleged arbitrary arrest and brutal assault of a police man by the Baduraliya police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

30 March 2007

------------------------------------------------------

UA-107-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged arbitrary arrest and brutal assault of a police man by the Baduraliya police

 

SRI LANKA: Arbitrary arrest; brutal assault by police; abuse of police power

------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding a case of alleged arbitrary arrest and the brutal assault of a policeman by the Baduraliya police in Mathugama district, Kalutara division, Sri Lanka on 14 March 2007. Due to the severity of the torture, the victim was hospitalised for five days up until March 19. The victim also claims that he was dismissed from his service due to fabricated charges filed against him claiming obstruction in carrying out the duty of the police as well as criminal obstruction.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

The victim, Mr. Rajapaksage Don Saman Nilantha (42), who is a sub inspector of the traffic police in Benthota, was off duty between March 13 and 15, 2007. At around 9:05 am on March 14, when the victim stopped and got off his motorcycle in front of the Baduraliya police station to talk with a friend, three police officers from the station started publicly assaulting him both verbally and physically.

 

In great amazement, the victim then tried to identify himself as a police officer; however, they ignored him and continued the beating. After being handcuffed, the victim was brought to the room of the Officer-in-charge (OIC), where he was allegedly stripped of his clothes and had his wallet as well as his motorcycle taken by the officers. The officers did not provide any explanation why the victim was being arrested and he was not allowed to inform his family about the detention.

 

Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha then had to sit on a chair in front of a cell.  Later at around 10:00 am, a statement was recorded by Sub Inspector Dammika and that the victim was forced to sign on it. He remained sitting on the chair in front of the cell until around 3:30 pm. During that time, he was not provided with any food or drink.

 

Later on that day, Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha was produced in front of the Mathugama Magistrate Court. The victim claims that he was framed with false charges of obstruction the duty of police and criminal obstruction. Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha was released on bail of Rs. 2,500 (USD 23) and surety bail of Rs. 50,000 (USD 460). His purse and motorcycle were returned when he was released.

 

The brutal assault resulted in Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha sustaining injuries on his body that were so severe he had to be admitted to the Waththawa Government Hospital on March 14. There were many marks on the victim's body, while the he claimed he experienced great discomfort because of the pain on his chest and other parts of his body. Due to the seriousness of his injury, Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha was transferred to the Nagoda General Hospital where he could receive intensive medical treatment.  He remained in hospital until March 19.  

 

Meanwhile, on March 23, Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha was informed that he had been suspended because of the charges laid against him by the Baduraliya police. At around 10:00 am on the same day, the victim's wife answered his phone since he was not at home at that time. The caller then told her that her husband would be sent to jail soon. 

 

Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha is now requesting that disciplinary action be taken against the three police officers of the Baduraliya police station:-Namal Liyanage, Sergeant Perera (ID 30073) and Sergeant Gunaratne (ID 30117) on grounds of unlawful assault, no presentation of warrant and allegedly filing fabricating charges with lack of substantial evidence.

 

In order to seek the necessary remedies, Mr. R.D.S. Nilantha has sent a written complaint to the authorities including the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Chairman of the National Police Commission, the Inspector General Police (IGP), and the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Legal Division.

 

The AHRC is deeply concerned by this serious case and condemns the brutal torture committed by the Baduraliva police officers. If policeman are treated by fellow policemen in such a brutal manner, there is no doubt how badly ordinary citizens are treated by police  when they are put under the similar situation. Further, regardless of whether the victim is guilty of the charges laid on him, torture is a criminal act under Sri Lankan law as well as international human rights laws. Since the victim claims that he has been implicated with fabricated charges, this matter should be looked into by the relevant authorities in a fair manner.   

 

Sri Lanka is also a state party to several important international human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which strongly prohibit the state practice of torture, arbitrary arrest and detention and emphasises protection of citizens from such inhuman treatments in accordance with domestic procedures.

 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below calling for an immediate investigation into this case along with the prosecution of the three police officers to ensure that they do not enjoy impunity. 

 

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23. UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Subsequent pressure by Ambalangoda police to the torture victims continues

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

Update on Urgent Appeal

 

2 April 2007

 

[RE: UA-100-2004: SRI LANKA: Ambalangoda police release tortured children after parents pay Rs. 3000; UP-113-2006: SRI LANKA: Mother of tortured boy forced to sign suspect document]

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UP-047-2007: SRI LANKA: Subsequent pressure by Ambalangoda police to the torture victims continues

 

SRI LANKA: Police intimidation; false accusation; torture; arbitrary arrest; abuse of child rights

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information about the alleged subsequent pressure to teenage torture victims Alagiyawadu Lakmal Chathuranga and L.P. Pradeep Kumarage, who were tortured in a most inhuman and degrading manner by the Ambalangoda police on 7 August 2004. The victims were released on 9 August 2004, and subsequently their parents lodged complaints to several authorities against the police officers who allegedly tortured the boys. The police intimidation against the victims started after these complaints were lodged in order to force the parents to withdraw their complaints. Please refer the UA-100-2004 and UP-113-2006 for details of the original incident.

 

UPDATED INFORMATION:

 

To briefly remind you of the original torture case, on 7 August 2004, Alagiyawadu Lakmal Chathuranga, aged 15, and L.P. Pradeep Kumarage, aged 14, were arrested by police officers in civilian clothes from the Ambalangoda police station on the accusation of stealing a gold chain. The two boys were then taken to the police station without being accompanied by their in violation of law.

 

The boys were then allegedly stripped naked and blind folded at the police station, where they were brutally assaulted by the police officers with wooden sticks. The two boys were released on 9 August 2004, after their parents paid Rs. 3000 (USD 29) to the police and signed a dubious statement written by the police.

 

Later on the parents of the boys lodged a complaint against the concerned police officers to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the National Police Commission (NPC), the Human Rights Commission (HRC), the Attorney General and others. Later the HRC began an inquiry into the incident, while the IGP referred the case to be investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) whose officers had visited the victims' home and recorded several statements.

 

For more details of the original incident, please see UA-100-2004 and UP-113-2006.

 

Meanwhile the alleged perpetrators (Ambalangoda police officers) started threatening the family of Alagiyawadu Lakmal Chathuranga to withdraw the complaint made against them. The family has been continuously receiving serious threats till now.

 

Meanwhile, the mother of L.P. Pradeep Kumarage has also made several complaints to the HRC of Sri Lanka, the NPC and the Attorney General regarding the threats made by the police authorities against her and her family. The latest complaint about the threats was made by her on 24 March 2007.

 

Apparently, the HRC of Sri Lanka has conducted an inquiry into this complaint made by the victims' families, however it seems there are no recommendations directed to the police authorities on this matter. 

 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to order a fair investigation into the case and take legal action against the alleged perpetrators without further delay. Please also urge them to give the victim and their family all necessary assistance for seeking legal remedies on this case.

 

----------------------

 

24. SRI LANKA: A police inspector allegedly assaulted and threatened a man on a personal matter

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

11 April 2007

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UA-119-2007: SRI LANKA: A police inspector allegedly assaulted and threatened a man on a personal matter

 

SRI LANKA: Police assault; corruption; abuse of power; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that on 25 March 2007 an Inspector working at the Office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Negombo allegedly assaulted and threatened a man thereby abusing his authority. The victim is in fear for his security because a group of policemen came to look for him after he lodged a complaint against the concerned inspector. 

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

Mr. Ajith Shantha Fernando is a resident of No.51/3, Anthony’s Road, Periyamulla, Negombo, Sri Lanka. At around 10:00pm on 25 March 2007, when he was parking his three wheeler at Periyamulla Bus Depot Junction, Inspector of Police (IP) Clement Fernando, who works at the Office of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Negombo, wearing civilian clothes parked his motor cycle next to Ajith's three wheeler. IP Fernando was smelling heavily of wine and the time and asked Ajith if he had a knife. When Ajith answered he did not carry anything like a knife, Inspector Clement Fernando started shouting and assaulting him, demanding to know why Ajith had attempted to assault his driver named Riffas.

 

Ajith was seriously assaulted on his chest, neck and stomach by IP Fernando for no apparent cause. Despite the fact that Ajith was protesting his innocence the IP continued to beat him. When the assault was over, Ajith told the inspector that he would go to the police station to lodge a complaint against him. IP Fernando then allegedly threatened Ajith saying, "Even though you go to the police station, you can do nothing to me. Once I give a call to the police station, you will be arrested."

 

According to Ajith, five days earlier he had asked Riffas to return Rs. 5,000 (USD 46) which Ajith loaned him over one year ago. Instead of paying the money, Riffas immediately went to IP Fernando and allegedly asked for help in dealing with this private matter. Ajith says that this is the reason behind his assault and intimidation by the said inspector. 

 

That night, Ajith could not sleep due to the pain and went to Negombo Base Hospital with his friend at 1:15am on March 26 to get medical treatment. On the way to the hospital Ajith was stopped by two traffic police officers. When he told them he was on the way to see a doctor because he had been assaulted by a police officer, he was told to go to a private hospital because all the doctors at the government hospital were very busy. The officers also told Ajith to come to the office of the SSP tomorrow to meet them. The victim could not help going to the private hospital to be treated.

 

On 26 March 2007, Ajith did not go to the Office of the SSP fearing further harassment by the police as it is the very place where IP Fernando works. Instead, he went to Police Headquarters in Colombo to lodge a complaint against the said inspector. The case was registered under CIB 11 319/68 by the Sergeant Sarath (ID 30690).

 

However, on the following day, unidentified several police officers in a car came to Ajith's village and looked for him. The police officers neither identified themselves nor informed the reason as to why they were looking for Ajith. When the officers asked about Ajith, one of his friends pointed in the wrong direction as he was concerned about  Ajith's security. In Sri Lanka, a person complaining against police officer(s) is often re-arrested or further harassed by the police. Since then, Ajith is afraid of being further harassed and threatened by the police. 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to inquire about the incident and take strong action against the concerned inspector. The AHRC will separately write to the UN Special Rapporteur on Question of Torture regarding this matter.

 

 

 

----------------------

 

25. SRI LANKA: Alleged brutal assault of a man by Ratnapura police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

12 April 2007

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UA-122-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged brutal assault of a man by Ratnapura police

 

SRI LANKA: Arbitrary arrest; violent assault; arbitrary detention by police

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the alleged arbitrary arrest, detention and brutal assault of a man by the Ratnapura police on 15 March 2007. The victim, Mr. Kuruthanthrige Lakshman Gunasekera, a 43 year-old trader, was stopped in the evening by two police officers in civilian clothes and brutally assaulted by them when he was patrolling near his farm to protect his property from wild animals. He then was brought to the police station and detained until the following morning without being charged. It has been reported that the victim was released by police on the next day without any charges. Meanwhile, no serious action has yet been taken to investigate the case and to arrest the alleged perpetrators.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At around 11:30 pm on 15 March 2007, Mr. Kuruthanthrige Lakshman Gunasekera from Dambuluwana, Ratnapura, was patrolling around his farm with his gun as usual to protect his cultivation from wild animals. He then heard someone talking to him using foul language and then two persons appeared and grabbed the victim. These two persons were wearing civilian clothes, identified themselves as police officers but did not produce any official identification. They asked the victim that if he was a criminal then one of them allegedly started to hit the victim about the head, face and spine with a gun. The other officer also hit the victim with his fist and kicked him while another person came to the site by police jeep and also joined in the assault.

 

Meanwhile, the victim's wife and the mother-in-law rushed to the scene and kept pleaded the police officers stop beating the victim. However, the officers continued beating the victim. Some other people from the village also came to the site and pleaded with the officers stop beating the victim but they too were ignored. Eventually the victim was taken to the police jeep and pushed inside.

 

The victim was taken to the Ratnapura police station in Ratnapura police district I, Ratnapura division, by the jeep. On the way to the station, he was continuously beaten by the officers. The victim’s neck  was squeezed by a police officer who sat behind him. Whilst travelling in the jeep, the victim noticed that the three police officers had taken alcohol and appeared to be drunk.  

 

From the police station, the victim was then taken to the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) to whom he reported the assaulted by the police officers. The victim complained that he had severe pain in his head and in the eyes, which was swollen due to the assault. The JMO asked the victim if he was drunk at the time of the incident and he replied that he had taken some alcohol as he usually does but he was not drunk.

 

After the interview with the JMO, the victim was brought back to the Ratnapura police station where he was detained in the lock-up. In the cell, the victim allegedly heard a conversation between police officers who assaulted him and the other officers saying that the victim approached the officers with intent to shoot them when they were mending the wheel of the jeep.

 

The victim was released the following morning without being charged. Later on, the victim was admitted to the ward 10 of the Ratnapura Hospital due to severe pain in his head and the eyes. He was again examined by the Judicial Medical Officer in the hospital however the police stationed at the hospital did not record a statement from him.

 

On 22 March 2007, the victim complained about his assault by the Ratnapura police to the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mr. Sabaragamuwa. The ASP Sabaragamuwa then forwarded a letter to ask for further action from the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Ratnapura division. Subsequently, the victim's statement was recorded by the police.

 

Furthermore, the victim sent a written complaint about his case to several authorities including the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Chairman of the National Police Commission, Inspector General Police (IGP), Deputy Inspector General (DIG-Legal Division) and the Attorney General.

 

The AHRC condemns this illegitimate action by the police officers against the victim. Such actions should never be tolerated in any circumstances. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) enshrines that arbitrary arrest and detention is strongly prohibited and that no one shall be subject to torture or any other cruel or inhuman treatment. As a state party to the ICCPR and the Convention against Torture (CAT), the Sri Lankan authorities should conduct an immediate investigation into the alleged case of brutal assault by police and provide all necessary remedies to the victim without delay.

 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take an immediate action into the alleged violent assault of the victim and provide legal remedies to the victim without further delay.

 

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26. SRI LANKA: Three men violently assaulted by police over alleged fabricated charges

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

17 April 2007

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UA-128-2007: SRI LANKA: Three men violently assaulted by police over alleged fabricated charges

 

SRI LANKA: Arbitrary arrest; violent assault; torture; arbitrary detention; false charge

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the alleged arbitrary arrest, brutal assault and fabrication of charges against three men from Panadura by the police on 24 March 2007. The victims were arrested by six police officers who failed to produce warrants or gave any explanation for the arrest. The victims has lodged their complaints to various government authorities but have not received response from any of them.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

According to the information we have received, at around 7:00pm on 24 March 2007, Mr. Wannakuwatta Waduge Tharaka Aruna Shantha Kumara, Mr. Dombagaha Pathirage Jayalath Kumara and Mr. Baminiyahandige Wasantha Barathi Peris were arrested by police officers of the Panadura North Police Station near the Keselwatte mosque. The police officers, some of whom were in uniform and others who were in civilian clothes, did not produce any arrest warrants or other valid documentation before the arrest. The police also failed to offer any explanation as to why the three workers were being arrested. It has been reported that the victims were violently hit and kicked about their heads, faces and stomachs during the arrest. 

 

The three victims were then taken to a jeep and brought to the Panadura North Police Station. Once again the victims were brutally assaulted at the police station by the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Mr. Prasana and another officer called Lalith. Due to brutal assault, one of the victims, Mr. B.W.B. Peris suffered several broken teeth.

 

The victims were then sent to the Panadura Hospital on the same day. However only Mr. W.W.T.A. Shantha Kumara out of the three victims was examined by a female doctor, who then asked the victims to sign a blank paper. When Mr. B.W. Barathi Peris refused to do so, the doctor wrote down something on the blank paper and gave it back to him. However, the police officer present there immediately took the paper before he signed it and allegedly assaulted him in front of the doctor. There Mr. D.P. Jayalath Kumara was intimidated by two police officers (whose police ID are 35188 and 63974) that he would be charged with either illegal possession of drugs or bombings.

 

After that, the three victims were all admitted to the ward No. 1 of the Panadura Hospital and their hands were cuffed to the beds. On March 25, when the magistrate examined them at the hospital the three victims told the magistrate that they had been tortured by the Panadura North police. However, the magistrate ordered them remanded in police custody at the hospital. The victims also reported the incident to the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), when the officer examined them on March 26. However, it is unknown whether either the magistrate or the JMO recorded the victim’s statements.

 

On March 26, Mr. W.W.T.A. Shantha Kumara was transferred to the remand prison in Kalutara. The other two victims were brought to the Panadura Magistrates Court who ordered both men remanded at the Kalutara remand prison later that evening.  

 

On March 29, the three victims were again produced before the Panadura Magistrate’s Court on allegedly fabricated charges by the police. Each of them were released on bail by of Rs. 7500 (USD 68) and surety bail of Rs. 75,000 (USD 687). Their next date to appear before the Magistrate’s court was fixed for 26 July 2007.

 

Among the victims, Mr. D.P. Jayalath Kumara still suffers from injuries to his stomach due to the assault by the OIC of the Panadura North police station. The victims sent a written complaint about their incident to various governmental authorities, including the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Chairman of the National Police Commission, the Inspector General Police (IGP), Deputy Inspector General (DIG Legal Division) and the Attorney General. However, no action has yet been taken by any of these authorities to inquire about the alleged brutal torture, arbitrary arrest and fabrication of charges against the victims by the Panadura North police. 

 

The AHRC strongly condemns that the action of the police officers against the three victims as inhuman and intolerable behaviour. As the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) enshrines, arbitrary arrest and detention is strongly prohibited and no one shall be deprived of their freedom by such actions. Sri Lanka is a state party to the ICCPR and the Convention against Torture (CAT), therefore we strongly urge the Sri Lankan authority to conduct thorough and impartial investigations into the above case without further delay and bring the alleged perpetrators before justice. We also urge the authorities of Sri Lanka ensure to provide all necessary assistance including financial compensation for the victims and their family.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take an immediate action into the alleged violent assault of the victim and provide legal remedies to the victim without further delay. The AHRC has already reported this case to the UN Special Rapporteur on Question of Torture and called for his intervention into this matter.

 

 

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27. SRI LANKA: Alleged brutal assault of a bus driver by a traffic police officer

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

18 April 2007

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UA-132-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged brutal assault of a bus driver by a traffic police officer

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; dysfunctional policing; abuse of power; impunity

-------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that a 39 year-old bus driver was allegedly tortured by a traffic police officer near the Waikkala Railway Gate on 11 March 2007.  The victim was apparently asked to pull his bus over to the side of the road and was then brutally attacked in front of the passengers on the bus. As a result, the victim underwent hospital care for two days.  We were informed that despite the victim's complaint, no action has yet been taken to investigate the incident and the alleged perpetrator remains free. We call for your urgent intervention into this case to support the victim. Please also protest against the continuing brutal abuse of civilians committed by the Sri Lankan police.  

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 11 March 2007, Mr. Lakam Mohottilage Anthony Newton Appuhamy was driving a Wenappuwa Depot bus bearing registration no. 62-3973 along with a conductor named Mr. Rohana Kumara on the Negombo-Wennappuwa bus route. When the bus approached the Waikkala Railway Gate at about 2:15 pm, a traffic police officer pulled over the bus for what appeared to be a routine road check. 

 

The victim reports that he was brutally tortured without informed of any offence he might have committed.  The victim states, "A police officer gave the signal for me to stop the bus.  Accordingly I stopped the bus on the left hand side of the road and walked up to the police officer. Then the police officer too came forward and said 'Is this the way to drive you bastard?', and slapped me. Then I asked him, 'Sir, why are you assaulting me?' Then again he slapped me."

 

The police officer continued to violently assault the victim and used verbal threats.  Although the victim continued to plead for his life, the police officer did not listen to him. The police officer then pushed the victim towards the police car and hit him once more.  The victim also stated, "Then he called me near to the other police officer and said 'Just watch what I am going to do to you'.  Then I told him 'Please forgive me if I did anything wrong, if I made a mistake give me a charge sheet'.   Then he said 'I do not care about those f***king things. Take this and get out.'" The officer then handed the victim a temporary license that identified the perpetrator as S.L. Amaranath. P.C. No.28441.

 

Once the incident had ended, the bus conductor Mr. Rohan and other passengers who witnessed the attack assured the victim that they would be willing to testify and provide any evidence they could regarding the assault.  When the victim returned to the Wennappuwa bus depot, he complained to the Transport manager Mr. Sisira, who then reported the incident to the Emergency Unit and made arrangements for the victim to be admitted to hospital.  The victim was warded at Govt. Hospital Marawila between March 11 and 13 March 2007, where he was treated for injuries to his right ear as well as severe headaches. After the victim was released, he had to undergo continued medial treatment from the hospital's T.N.A. Unit for another three days. 

 

The AHRC condemns this brutal act of torture allegedly committed by S.L. Amaranath. P.C. No.28441. The AHRC urges that Sri Lankan authorities immediately investigate this case and bring the perpetrator to justice. The AHRC also demands that the victim receive full compensation for the injuries he has sustained and that he and his family receive adequate protection to ensure that they once again regain their sense of personal security. 

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

Arbitrary arrest, detention and torture by the police have become endemic in Sri Lanka. To fight this serious matter, in January 2007, the new rule named "Rules of Procedure (Public Complaints) 2007" was made by the National Police Commission (NPC) by virtue of the powers vested in it under paragraph (2) of the Article 155G of the Sri Lankan Constitution. The Rule allows ordinary citizens, whose rights are violated by the police officers, to seek appropriate redress, through the newly established Public Complaints Investigation Division (PCID) under the NPC. According to this Rule, the NPC should conduct investigation into the alleged reported case of police brutality against civilians including cases that fall under violations of human rights, allegations of torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as well as fabrications of cases within 30 days from the receipt of complaint.

 

The AHRC is concerned that this new Rule will be another empty promise or diplomatic gesture if the strict implementation is not followed. The Convention against Torture (CAT) Act No. 22 of 1994 can be a good example. After ratifying the CAT, the Sri Lankan government introduced this domestic law to combat with endemic police torture but none of the police offices had been convicted under this law for about 10 years due to the lack of the government's will to implement it. About two years ago one police officer was finally found guilty under this law first time but the government's response to this deeply rooted practice of police torture is still far below the requirement that need to be done.

 

To learn more about the practice of police torture in Sri Lanka, see our 1st Special Report "Torture committed by the police in Sri Lanka" and 2nd special report "Endemic torture and the collapse of policing in Sri Lanka". See also the AHRC 2006 Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka chapter.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write the relevant Sri Lankan authorities and demand justice for this victim.  Please ask investigate the officers responsible and to fully compensate the victim for the torture he experienced.  Please also urge them to provide protection to the victim's family.  The AHRC has already written to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture regarding this matter.

 

-------------------

 

28. SRI LANKA: No criminal action against two policemen after Human Rights Commission confirms torture of a man

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

18 April 2007

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UA-131-2007: SRI LANKA: No criminal action against two policemen after Human Rights Commission confirms torture of a man 

 

SRI LANKA: arbitrary arrest and detention; illegitimate inquiry; custodial torture; authority abuse; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received the information that no criminal charges have not been filed against the police officers of the Moratuwa police station responsible for illegal arrest and inhuman torture of a man in September 2004. A few days after his arrest, the victim was released by the court as there was no complaint against him. In March 2007, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) confirmed that the victim's fundamental rights had been violated by the perpetrators and recommended that compensation be paid to the victim. However, no criminal action has yet been taken against the alleged perpetrators for their illegal act. Please call for the Attorney General's Department to take prosecutory action against the responsible police officers based on the result of the HRCSL's inquiry.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 2 September 2004, Mr. Bamina Hannadige Gamini Fernando was arrested by the Police Sergeant R.W.W. Palihawadana (Police ID No.22488) and Sub Inspector K.A. Padmasiri at Moratuwa police station. These 2 police officers, without a warrant or any evidence, arrested and inhumanly tortured Gamini.

 

According to Gamini's wife, her husband was allegedly tortured while in custody at Moratuwa police station. For example, Gamini was stripped, hung and assaulted brutally with wicket poles. As a result, his legs were swollen and his feet were cut and bled. It was learned later that Gamini was accused of stealing some goods such as arrack and TV cassettes. He was tortured in front of the owner of the allegedly stolen items. As there was not sufficient evidence to prove his guilt Gamini was allegedly tortured in order to force a confession from him. 

 

On 9 September 2004, Gamini was brought before the Moratuwa Magistrate, and then remanded for several days at Welikada prison and Kalutara prison. On September 19, Gamini was finally released by the court as no complaint was brought against him. Gamini was subsequently hospitalized at the Nagoda General Hospital for medical treatment.

 

The AHRC is deeply concerned that the victim was illegally arrested and tortured by the police based on mere suspicion although there was no official complaint lodged against him. He was also illegally detained in the police station for about one week despite that fact that, by law, arrested persons should be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.

 

However the police have neither charged anyone for this illegal arrest and brutal torture nor compensated the victim for his physical and psychological suffering.

 

The victim’s wife K.U. Shiromi Dias lodged a complaint to the HRCSL which was registered under complaint No. HRC/4588/04/I (viii). After conducting an inquiry, the HRCSL found that Police Sergeant R.W.W. Palihawardana and Sub Inspector K.A. Padmasiri guilty of breaching the basic rights of the victim, which are stated in section 11 and 13(1) of the Constitution.

 

On 28 March 2007, two and a half years after the incident, the HRCSL finally recommended that the two perpetrators pay compensation of Rs. 12,500 (114 USD), that is Rs. 7,500 for Sergeant Palihawardana and 5,000 for Sub Inspector K.A. Padmasiri, to the victim. This very recommendation by the HRCSL (which has not been paid) is a clear indication of the lack of respect for, or understanding of the international norms and standard by the commission. It is quite simply an insult to the torture victim to declare a quantum of altogether Rs. 12,500 for causing torture by two policemen. International standards on these matters have been set out on the basis of the gravity of torture as a violation of human rights. It is one of the greatest injuries that can be caused to the dignity of a human person. The HRCSL should be urged to review the quantum of compensation granted in this case as well as in all earlier cases.

 

The alleged perpetrators illegally arrested and seriously tortured the victim which is obviously a criminal act and clear abuse of authority. With compensation for the victim, therefore, an investigation should be thoroughly conducted into the case and then the alleged perpetrators brought to book in order to root out the problems of criminal investigation by the police.

 

The AHRC notes with grave concern that none of the responsible police officers has yet been indicted in relation to this crimes. We therefore strongly urge the Attorney General's Department to take action against the responsible police officers based on the result of the inquiry by the HRCSL. We also urge the Inspector General of Police and the National Police Commission (NPC) to immediately take disciplinary action against these officers. 

 

This is in fact yet another example which illustrates the routine practice of the police force's use of illegal arrest and torture as means of investigation of the crimes in Sri Lanka. The AHRC has previously reported several of similar cases relating to the arbitrary arrest or torture by the police. For example, 9 out of 12 Urgent Appeals that we have reported from Sri Lanka for the last two months are related to this issue. Please refer to: UA-128-2007, UA-122-2007, UA-108-2007, UA-107-2007, UA-097-2007, UA-085-2007, UA-076-2007 and UA-055-2007.

 

The Sri Lankan government should take genuine action to eliminate such brutal and illegal practices by the police in the country. As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT), Sri Lanka should strictly prohibit the police from illegally/arbitrary arresting and torturing citizens and should not allow the police to commit such crimes with impunity.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take an immediate action into the case and also urge them to provide the compensation for the victim without more delay. The AHRC separately will report this case to the UN Special Rapporteur on Question of Torture to call for their intervention into this case.

 

----------------------

 

29. SRI LANKA: Alleged torture and fabrication of case against a man by the Special Investigation Unit-Kalutara

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

24 April 2007

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UA-139-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged torture and fabrication of case against a man by the Special Investigation Unit-Kalutara

 

SRI LANKA:  Unlawful arrest and detention; torture; fabrication of case; improper criminal investigation

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2006 AHRC Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka

http://material.ahrchk.net/hrreport/2006/SriLanka2006.pdf

 

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from a reliable source about the alleged torture of a man by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Kalutara division. It is alleged that Mr. Maha Hewage Sumith Perera was inhumanely tortured for several hours for two days. What is particularly horrendous about this case is that it is the SIU who are frequently tasked with the duty of investigating accusations of torture by elements of the Sri Lankan Police Force.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

Mr. Maha Hewage Sumith Perera is a 32-year old three wheeler operator residing at 52/A Henawatte, Maggona, Sri Lanka. On 26 March 2007, the officers of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Kalutara Division came in search of Mr. Perera, who was not at home at that time. The police then left a message with his wife requesting him to go to the office of the SIU at the Kalutera Police Station.

 

At around noon on the following day, Mr. Sumith Perera went to the SIU Office, where he was allegedly handcuffed and made to sit on the floor. At about 9:00pm that evening the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the SIU, Mr. Nimal Karunaratne came in, ordered the victim to stand and questioned him about certain thefts using foul language. Mr. Sumith Perera then realized that he was being detained in the said OIC's room. 

 

When Mr. Perera told the officer that he knew nothing about the thefts, the OIC made him lean against the wall and assaulted him with a pole about 3 feet long. The OIC beat the victim’s feet, back, shoulders in a most inhumane manner. After the brutal assault, the OIC questioned the victim about the theft cases again. When Mr. Perera kept insisting on his innocence, the OIC again assaulted him. According to Mr. Perera, the OIC interrogated him while torturing him until 11:00pm on that night. The OIC then left the office saying "we will see in the morning".

 

Mr. Sumith Perera said that there were three other detainees who were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the same theft case. He said that all three persons were also tortured.  All four of them were kept handcuffed within the room of OIC Nimal Karunaratne overnight.

 

On the following morning, the four men were not given anything to eat or drink. The OIC Nimal Karunaratne came to the office at about 11:00am and sent the three other persons out of the room. He then interrogated Mr. Sumith Perera in a similar manner as he had done the previous day. When the victim insisted his innocence, the OIC hit him with his fist on the right cheek and on his chest.

 

There were three other police officers in civilian clothes present in the room at the time. The OIC, Nimal Karunaratne, allegedly told the officers that it is useless to hit the victim like this and ordered them to him bring a pole. One of the officers then handed the OIC the same pole with which Mr. Perera had been tortured the previous day.  The OIC then got Mr. Sumith Perera to lean against the wall and assaulted him.

 

The OIC also took Mr. Sumith Perera's mobile phone and threatened him continuously saying, "Even if you escape this time, I will not let you live, I will place a bomb and catch you or I will see that you die with a bomb, or I will put heroin . You will be then put to the High Court then you have to pay at least Rs. 5,000 (USD 45) to the lawyers".

 

After the assault, the OIC and some other officers took the victim into a white van and brought him to his sister's house. The vehicle did not stop right up to the house. Instead it was stopped ahead and Mr. Perera was taken down in handcuffs and forced to walk to his sister's house. It is alleged that this was done in order to embarrass him. At the sister's house her TV was taken into the police custody.

 

The police then took Mr. Sumith Perera to his house where they searched his household. The victim's house windows were not completed and the OIC Nimal Karunaratne took out one of the windows. Mr. Sumith Perera's wife was not at home at that time.

 

Mr. Perera was then brought back to the SIU’s Office and again questioned about the alleged theft cases and tortured in the same manner. In the meantime, three TVs were taken into the custody of SIU from the area of Beruwala, Payagala and Maggona. On that night after the OIC left the office, the victim and three others once again slept inside the OIC's room like the previous day.

 

On March 28, the victim's wife Mrs. Vidanalage Renuka Subashni complained about her husband's unlawful arrest, detention and torture to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), the National Police Commission (NPC) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP). According to the victim, his wife and a relative, who visited him at the SIU Office several times, witnessed the victim's injuries sustained by the assault of the OIC Nimal Karunaratne.

 

On the same day, the SIU Officers took a statement from Mr. Perera and three other detainees. An officer named Suminda also took the victim's photograph. When taking the photograph, the officers covered the victim's handcuffs with a T-shirt so that they did not appear in the photograph. Photographs were taken of Mr. Perera both alone and in the company of the three other persons.  

 

At around 6:30pm on the same evening, a person came to meet the OIC Nimal Karunaratne. At that time Mr. Perera and the three others were shifted to a room behind, which was filled with bottles and cans of illicit liquor that had been confiscated in raids. They were kept there until 8:00pm and taken back to the OIC's room. On that occasion, the OIC and some other officers allegedly consumed liquor in front of Mr. Perera and the three others. All the four were then sent to another room and were not tortured on that night. The officers drank and left the office. That night too the victim and the three others slept while being handcuffed like on the previous nights.

 

On March 29, the OIC Nimal Karunaratne arrived at the SIU Office about 10:30am. He did not harass Mr. Sumith Perera on that day but detained him in the room where the illicit liquor was kept.  At about 8:00pm on the same day, Mr. Sumith Perera and the three others were taken into the same white van and handed over to the Payagala police. Finally their handcuffs were removed and they were put into the police lock-up. 

 

All the four were then detained at the Payagala police station until around 3:00pm on March 30 when they were produced before the Magistrate’s Court of Kalutara on alleged fabricated charges and sent to a remand prison until April 5. The victim was represented by Attorney-at-law Kanishka. Due to the brutal torture, Mr. Perera was in a poor condition and he reported this to the officials of the remand prison. However, they did not arrange any medical attention for him.

 

On April 5, Mr. Sumith Perera  was again produced before the Magistrate Court of Kalutara and   released on a bail of  Rs. 5,000 (USD 45) and on a surety bail of Rs. 150,000 (USD 1,365). The next date of the case hearing is scheduled for 5 July 2007.

 

After his release, the victim lodged a written complaint to the Chairman of the HRCSL, the Chairman of the NPC and IGP and Senior Superintendent of Police of Kalutara division.

 

The AHRC is deeply concerned by the alleged illegal arrest, detention, torture and fabrication of charges against the victim by the SIU of Kalutara Division. A person arrested should be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours after the arrest by law. The AHRC suspects that the OIC of the SIU of Kalutara Division intentionally detained the victim in his room to avoid this legal requirement. Furthermore, the manner of the victim's detention and torture is inhuman in violation of the international standards for detainees. The AHRC strongly urges the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately take disciplinary and legal action against the OIC and other responsible officers of the SIU Kalutara. 

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

This case is yet another example illustrating the absence of a credible mechanism of criminal justice inquiries in Sri Lanka. Still torture is a main tool for the investigation of crimes at the police stations in Sri Lanka. If there is any complaint against Mr. Sumith Perera, the police should have properly conducted an investigation into the matter; for example, summon Mr. Sumith Perera for an inquiry through lawful process, locate the witnesses and collect the statements from them and collect the sufficient evidence to prove Mr. Sumith Perera's guilty.

 

However, the SIU Kalutara illegally arrested and further tortured Mr. Sumith Perera. He was then framed with alleged false charges by the police. This is in clear violation of the victim's fundamental right to security, and right not to be tortured that is guaranteed by the Sri Lankan constitution as well as UN Convention against Torture (CAT) to which Sri Lanka is a state party. Furthermore, the victim was detained in the unlawful detention places, the room of the OIC of the SIU.  The AHRC is particularly concerned that those responsible in this case are the officers of the SIU, who are frequently tasked with the duty of investigating accusations of torture by elements of the Sri Lankan Police Force.

 

Although the Sri Lankan government introduced the CAT Act no. 22 of 1994 in a purpose of seeking the prosecutions of the torture perpetrators, the number of cases filed under the CAT Act on complaints is very few so far though allegations of torture have increased.

 

There is no doubt that it is impossible to deal with the issue of endemic torture at the police stations in Sri Lanka, without reforming the criminal justice inquiry mechanism and strict sanction and prosecution against the torture perpetrators.

 

The impact of several decades of instability on the Sri Lankan policing system has been thoroughly documented in a number of reports by the AHRC. article 2, Vol. 1, No. 4 (http://www.article2.org/mainfile.php/0104/) and Vol. 3, No. 1

(http://www.article2.org/mainfile.php/0301/).

 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below expressing your concern about this serious case. Please urge them to take action for a proper investigation and punishment of the alleged perpetrators. The AHRC has already written to the UN Special Rapporteur on Question of Torture demanding for his intervention into this matter.

 

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30. SRI LANKA: Alleged torture and fabrication of charges by Wattegama Police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

7 May 2007

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UA-151-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged torture and fabrication of charges by Wattegama Police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; fabrication of charges

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Dear friends

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to inform you about an alleged torture case by police officers of Wattegama Police Station. P.K.W. Wijesinghe was summoned to the police station to give a statement. He was allegedly brutally tortured by a sub-inspector and a sergeant. He was then admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital. Following the incident, the police allegedly filed a false case against him, and he was remanded into police custody for 9 days. The victim is now released on bail.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

According to the information we have received, at around 10:00am on 15 January 2007, Mr. Wijeshinghe was summoned to the Wattegama Police Station with his lawyer Mr. Saman Ratnayake. He was accused of having failed to return some jewellery and money as promised, but he denied such accusations. He was asked by the police to give a statement about this accusation. Meanwhile, a sub-inspector of police, Mr. Upali Chandrasiri was very rude to him. After his lawyer left, Mr. Wijeshinghe stayed to clarify that he was not guilty of such accusations, but Mr. Upali and another police sergeant, Mr. Thilakarathna, physically abused him. He was kicked and beaten, and then locked up and tortured. Mr. Wijeshinghe told the police that he had heart disease, but the officers did not pay attention and threatened to kill him. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back.

 

On the same day the police filed a case at the Teldeniya Magistrates Courts against him, claiming that he had obstructed the duty of sub-inspector Upali Chandrasiri, based on a fabricated document. On 22 February 2007, the case was called at the court but Mr. Wijeshinghe was hospitalised and unable to attend the court. Therefore, the court remanded him into police custody from 22 February to 1 March 2007.

 

Although Mr. Wijeshinghe was hospitalised in the Wattegama Hosiptal, on 22 February, the police transferred him to the National Hospital Kandy under custody, where he was admitted into the intensive care unit. On 23 February, he was transferred to the Cardiology ward. He remained under police custody until 27 February.

 

Mr. Wijeshinghe was brought before the judge on 1 March 2007, where the police claimed that he was a mental patient. His lawyers denied this accusation with medical certificates from the hospital, and he was released on bail later the same day.

 

On 9 March 2007 and 23 April 2007, the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission in Kandy summoned Sub Inspector Upali Chandrasiri for an inquiry into the complaint made by Mr. Wijesinghe, but the respondent Mr. Upali Chandrasiri was not present.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write to the following authorities and ask them to conduct an investigation into the alleged torture cases and the fabricated charges. If the claims are proven true, the perpetrators should be prosecuted accordingly, and the cases against Mr. Wijeshinghe should be dropped. Mr. Wijenshinghe and his family should also be properly compensated. The AHRC has already written to the UN Special Rapporteur on Question of Torture demanding his intervention into this matter.

 

To support this appeal, please click here:

 

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31. SRI LANKA: Local gangs fabricate accusation against brutally assaulted family

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

9 May 2007

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UA-155-2007: SRI LANKA: Local gangs fabricate accusation against brutally assaulted family

 

SRI LANKA: Violent assault; arbitrary arrest and detention; false accusation

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arbitrary arrest under fabricated charge of an uncle and grandfather of a 3-year-old child who was knocked down by a motor cycle. A group of gang members who were allegedly friends of the motor cyclist came and assaulted the father and the other family members after the father blamed the motor cyclist for causing the accident. The police officer who was called to the site of the incident further assaulted the victims without asking the family about the situation.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At 6:30 pm, on 17 April 2007, 3-year-old Akash was knocked down by a motor cycle in Nattaranpotha Road, Kundasale, Kandy. The family of Akash scolded the motor cyclist for his carelessness which resulted in the small child's injury. Some time later on the same day, 20-25 men came to the family's house and started beating up the family members and damaging their house.

 

In addition, the police officers who received a call from Akash's father, Alagappen Prabu shortly after he knew about the assault of the family by the gang men, also beat the victims without asking what happened upon arriving at the scene on the same day. It seems that the alleged perpetrators had good relations with the police officers of the Balagolla police station.

 

Small Akash was taken to the Kandy General Hospital and warded in ward No. 70 for 3 days. That same evening, Akash's uncle Mahendran Sandanam and grandfather K. Selliah went to the Balagolla police station to make a complaint. However, the police officers again assaulted them both verbally and physically and detained them instead of registering the case and writing down the victim's statement.

 

The alleged perpetrators were protected by the police officers, while the real victims were charged with an unknown reason. Akash's uncle Mahendran Sandanam and grandfather K. Selliah were detained in the Balagolla police station until they were produced before the Kandy magistrate on 18 April. Without any explicit inquiry or proper action on the part of the magistrate, Akash's uncle Mahendran Sandanam and grandfather K. Selliah were remanded into police custody for 3 more days. Although the victims were released on bail, the case against the victims is scheduled to be heard at the Kandy Magistrate court on 27 July 2007.

 

The victim family made a complaint to the Assistant Superintendent of Police about the police officers of the Balagolla police station for their ignorance of the victim's complaint and illegal detention of the victims.

 

The victim family has since relocated in order to escape continued assault in the hands of the alleged perpetrators living in the area and the police officers who support these well known thugs.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take immediate actions against the alleged perpetrators, including the police officers who assaulted and detained the victims. Please also urge them to ensure that appropriate legal remedies will be provided to the victim family.   

 

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32. SRI LANKA: Severe torture by the Negombo Police on inducement by influential third party

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

11 May 2007

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UA-158-2007: SRI LANKA: Severe torture by the Negombo Police on inducement by influential third party

 

SRI LANKA: brutal torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; fabrication of charges, police nepotism

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the brutal assault of a 36-year-old man, Mihindukulasuriya Lal Fernando, by several members of the Negombo Police who came to arrest him in three police vehicles. This was, allegedly after the victim had an argument with a prominent businessman in the area. When he was produced before the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) the police warned him not to reveal the police assault to the doctor or else he would be falsely implicated in a robbery case and imprisoned for a few years. Thereafter he was forced to sign a statement prepared by the police on the threat of further violence, if he refused to comply.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 6 April 2007 about 7:45pm about 15 to 18 armed policemen in civilian clothes and in three police vehicles visited a house in Kudapaduwa Negombo where M. Lal Fernando was residing at the time. Several of them broke into the house through the back door. Mr. Fernando who was in the bathroom, heard the commotion and came outside. The two of the policemen pounced on him shouting "you are our man" and gave Mr. Fernando two hard slaps on his face.

 

Mr. Fernando recognised three policemen as Fernando, Bandara and Priyanath and queried from them why they had broken into the house and assaulting him. The policemen replied, "How dare you spit on Bada (big-tummy) Nimal"? Bada Nimal was a prominent businessman of the area involved in the fisheries industry. Mr. Fernando denied spiting at Nimal and insisted he only had an argument with him. Nonetheless the policemen handcuffed him and dragged him outside the house. Outside, Mr. Fernando says he saw eight policemen nearby and seven more further down the road. The policemen continued to drag Mr. Fernando up to the Kudapaduwa Church and severely assaulted him. The Negombo Police Officer-in-Charge (OIC) also arrived at the scene and striking him queried sneeringly, "How dare you spit on the face of Bada Nimal?" When Mr. Fernando continuously denied doing so he says the policemen thoroughly assaulted him for about 15 minutes.

 

At the time, Mr. Fernando's wife came outside the house with a pair of trousers and asked the policemen to give her husband room to at least wear them, as he had been wearing only a towel at the time he was dragged out of the house. But instead, the police pulled her by the hair, verbally abused her in foul language and chased her away. Then the towel-clad and injured Mr. Fernando was shoved into and taken away in a police jeep; the policemen continuing to pummel him inside the vehicle. They took him to the Kamachchode junction in Negombo and pushed him outside the vehicle. Mr. Fernando says, as he fell to the ground the towel around him was thrown away and he was rendered completely naked. When a bystander attempted to help him wear the towel, he too was assaulted and scolded in foul language by the Police Station OIC. The policemen then repeated their assault on Mr. Fernando despite the fact he was laying on the ground injured. 

 

The OIC then instructed someone to fetch 'Bada Nimal' to the place. After about 15 minutes when 'Bada Nimal' came, the policemen dragged Mr. Fernando to him and forced Mr. Fernando to kneel before him and seek his forgiveness. Two policemen, Lakshman and Fernando trampled his head with their boots. Then the OIC told 'Bada Nimal' to spit on Mr. Fernando at which request Bada Nimal spat on the ground nearby. Thereafter the OIC pulled Mr. Fernando to his feet and viciously punched his stomach. Then the OIC spat on his face.

 

The police put Mr. Fernando into the jeep and took him to the Negombo Police Station.  Mr. Fernando alleges that even at the Station gate, the OIC repeatedly assaulted and spat on him.  Then, some other policemen were instructed to 'lock him up'. Policemen Bandara and Fernando asked what case to (falsely) charge Mr. Fernando with at which the OIC replied "let us put a robbery case on him and send him in for a few years". Accordingly, Mr. Fernando was locked up in a holding cell until 9:30am the next day.

 

The next day, about 11:30am he was taken before a Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) at the Negombo Hospital. However before leaving, the police warned him that if he told the JMO he was assaulted by the police, they would falsely implicate him in a case and send him to jail for 3-4 years. Mr. Fernando also says the policemen boasted that they had the licence to do whatever they wanted; they decided what to write and what cases to construct. At the hospital, the JMO examining him saw the injuries on his face asked him whether he had been assaulted. But because two policemen were by his side, Mr. Fernando remained silent. He was taken back to the police station where he says the OIC indicated to a couple of small bombs and an old revolver and said: "we had already prepared the goods to implicate you with but since you remained silent we will not do so." Mr. Fernando was then ordered to sign a statement prepared by the police. After reading its contents, Mr. Fernando refused to sign saying that he was not involved in the incidents mentioned therein. But policemen Piyaratne and Fernando threatened him that 'next he will be hung and tortured' unless he signs immediately. Out of fear, Mr. Fernando says he had little choice but to sign the document.

 

About 2:30pm, the police took Mr. Fernando to the Magistrate's official residence and obtained an order to remand him for three days. However fortunately for Mr. Fernando, remand officials noticed his injuries and warded him at the remand hospital. On 9 April 2007 he was released on bail. However two days later, April 11, Mr. Fernando had suffered from nose bleeds and severe body pain. He had to be admitted for about three days at the Negombo Hospital.

 

Mr. Fernando has now complained to the Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police (North Western Province), Human Rights Commission, National Police Commission, the Attorney General, and the Chief Justice about the severe torture, degrading treatment, as well as illegal arrest and detention he suffered at the hands of the Negombo police.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take immediate legal and disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators, who illegally arrested, detained and then tortured the victim causing him severe injuries. Please also urge them to ensure that appropriate compensation be paid to the victim for the gross violation of his fundamental rights.    

 

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33. SRI LANKA: A man was brutally tortured and denied food by a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) officer

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

15 May 2007

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UA-162-2007: SRI LANKA: A man was brutally tortured and denied food by a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) officer

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; filing of fabricated charges; food deprivation; arbitrary use of authority by police; threats against victim

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the inhuman treatment by the police towards a 29-year-old man, Mr. B Sumith Priyantha Fernando, on 26 March 2007. Mr. Fernando was illegally arrested, detained and was subsequently brutally tortured by a police officer, Officer- in Charge (OIC) of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) Nimal Karunaratne, over allegations of false charges. Fernando, father of three children, was detained for four days and was denied food while in custody of the SIU in Katukurunda, Kalutara police division. The SIU is a division of the Police Department supposedly tasked to investigate police wrongdoing, including torture.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 26 March 2007, several policemen had arrived at the place where Mr. B. Sumith Priyantha Fernando was working. The policemen, who were later discovered as attached to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in Katukurunda, Kalutara police division, asked Fernando if his name was 'Manju'. When Fernando replied that he is known as 'Suddha' but his real name is Sumith, the police quickly told him he is the person they are looking for and immediately handcuffed him.

 

One of the policemen, who was carrying a handgun, immediately forced Fernando towards the motorcycle rickshaw the police are using as service vehicle. He was taken towards the house of Sumith Perera in Kitumithugama, Maggona. But since Perera at the time was not at home, they proceeded to the SIU in Katukurunda. Fernando was taken inside a room and was forced to sit on the floor with his handcuffs on until about 9pm. While in custody, the police repeatedly shouted at him and verbally abused him with foul language.

 

At around 9pm, Nimal Karunaratne, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the SIU, arrived and started questioning Fernando regarding an incident of theft. Karunaratne verbally abused him with extremely foul language. Karunaratne ordered Fernando to stand against the wall at the corner of the room and started brutally beating him with a wooden club. The assault and questioning of Fernando lasted for almost one hour. Fernando suffered severe injuries to his body and had his left toenail damaged causing him unbearable pain. Before leaving the room, Karunaratne instructed Fernando to sleep on the floor. Despite serious injuries and unbearable pain, the policemen did not bother giving him medical attention, food or water.

 

The following day, March 27, Fernando's family arrived at the police station to visit him but they were not allowed to see him. The food items they were carrying also never reached him. On that day also, Fernando was forced to sit on the floor with his handcuffs on. At 12noon, Fernando was taken to a storeroom where lunch was served to him two hours later. While eating, although the police shortly removed his handcuffs, they kept his left hand handcuffed to a window. At the time, another person named Amal was also taken inside the room with him. About 7pm, Fernando and Amal were taken to Karunaratne's room.

 

While inside the room, Fernando noticed seeing Sumith Perera in another room. It was Perera whom the police had earlier looked for at the time of his arrest. At 9pm, Karunaratne went inside their room and once again severely beat Fernando and Amal separately.

 

On March 28, Fernando was locked inside a storeroom. At night, Fernando was taken inside Karunaratne’s office room. He allegedly saw Karunaratne and some other policemen having a drinking session inside. Suddenly, Karunaratne received a telephone call. Soon after he left telling his companions he would join them later. On March 29, while inside Karunaratne’s room, the police forced Fernando to make a statement and had him photographed. About 7pm he was taken to the Payagala police station where he was detained until the next day, March 30.

 

On March 30, at about 4pm, Mr. Fernando and Amal was taken towards the Magistrate's Court where the police allegedly filed fabricated charges against him. On May 5, Fernando was released on bail after appearing before the court. After his release, Fernando was told by his sister and brother-in-law that Karunaratne had warned them that: “however long it takes he will ensure he [Fernando] is arrested again or else that he will be eliminated”. It was his sister and brother-in-laws who assisted him in securing bail for his temporary release,

 

Fernando had since been suffering from severe pain and bruises as a result of brutal beatings inflicted on him. He has been taking ayurvedic (indigenous) medicine to treat his injuries. Fernando had already filed a complaint against Karunaratne and his men before the Inspector of Police (IGP), the National Police Commission (NPC) and the Human Rights Commission and the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of the Kalutara. Fernando is demanding for immediate legal and disciplinary action to be taken against Karunaratne and his men.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take appropriate legal and disciplinary action against Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Nimal Karunaratne of the Special Investigation Unit. An investigation must be conducted into Fernando’s allegations and the charges filed against him withdrawn if there is insufficient proof. Appropriate compensation must also be given to him and his security and safety must be guaranteed to him as well.

 

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34. SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a man by military officers

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

19 May 2007

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UA-164-2007: SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a man by military officers

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; arbitrary arrest and illegal detention; denial of medical attention; arbitrary use of authority by police and military

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that S. Kinsley de Silva (48) was brutally tortured by four army officers following his arrest at his residence on 10 May 2007. The military men, all attached to Army Unit at Old Sri Sumangala Boys School, arrested De Silva in Thalpitiya, Wadduwa without informing him of the reason. Before the military turned him over to the police' custody, each of them severely beat his face, eyes and body one after the other. It is believed that his arrest could have been a result of his earlier argument with a military man.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 10 May 2007 at about 6pm, three military men in uniform together with another person wearing civilian clothes arrived at the home of S. Kinsley de Silva. The military men, riding in a blue van bearing a military license number plate 28-210, entered De Silva's house while he and his family were asleep. Two of them entered by the front while two others entered by the back. They were able to do due to the fact that De Silva's house was unfinished and the doors and windows had not yet been installed.

 

The person wearing civilian clothes was accompanied by his companion when they entered at De Silva's bedroom. This person in civilians clothe pointed his T-56 machine gun at De Silva's chest warned him not to stand up. Soon after, he started brutally beating De Silva using his gun before giving it to another soldier. The perpetrators forcibly dragged De Silva by his hair and arms. While De Silva struggled his sarong fell and he was dragged naked into the hall where two other military men, also carrying guns, looked on.

 

At the hall area, all the four soldiers started brutally beating De Silva with their fists, boots and guns one after the other. When De Silva fell to the ground the person in civilian clothes grabbed his neck and strangled him for few minutes. De Silva pleaded with them to stop but they ignored his plea. The other occupants inside the house likewise tried to stop them from assaulting De Silva, but they threatened them not to intervene otherwise they would be assaulted too. When De Silva's neighbours started gathering outside their house after they heard commotion, the military instead told them to 'to mind your [their] own business'.

 

Only when De Silva's injuries and eye started to bleed the military officer stopped assaulting him. Had De Silva's wife not been able to put on his sarong and a shirt the military would have dragged him naked outside their house towards their vehicle. De Silva was taken to a nearby Gardenia Village, where the person wearing a civilian clothes, was residing. They opened a room showing him a gun and other items purposely to intimidate him.

 

Later the military men took De Silva towards the Wadduwa Police Station. When they arrived at the police station, De Silva was surrounded by three of the military men while the person in civilian clothes went inside the police station to meet the Officer in Charge (OIC). The OIC, likewise subsequently had De Silva detained inside their detention centre. While in detention for about five to six hours, the police did not provide him medical attention even though his face and injuries were bleeding. De Silva was later taken to the OIC's office where several military officers and a woman were waiting. The military officers were seen talking to this unnamed woman.

 

One of the military officials introduced himself to De Silva as the Commanding Officer (CO) in charge of the area where the incident took place. He also claimed to have jurisdiction over the four military men involved. The said officer however indirectly threatened De Silva that he could do anything to him. He also asked Silva whether or not he was willing to enter into a settlement or file charges in court. De Silva remained silent. At this time, OIC quickly said he had nothing to do with De Silva's arrest and advised De Silva to instead seek treatment at the hospital. The OIC also told him he would refer the matter regarding the assault on him to the Conciliation Board.

 

It was only this time where the police started recording De Silva's statement. The OIC, however, did not allow De Silva to read what the police have written nor explained to him its content--which is required by law. He was simply told to sign it and gave him a Medico-Legal Examination (MLE) Form. De Silva was accompanied by his family when they went to the Panadura Hospital.

 

At the hospital, De Silva reported to the hospital authorities regarding the assault perpetrated against him by the military officers. Several stitches had to be inserted under his eye and he had to be confined at the hospital. On May 14, De Silva was examined by a Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) before he was discharged from the hospital. He was instructed to visit the hospital three days later in order for his follow-up medication. While in hospital, De Silva's his wife, Pushpalatha, also lodged a complaint at the Wadduwa Police Station.

 

Separate complaints were also filed before the Army Commander, Human Rights Commission, National Police Commission, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Kalutara and other authorities concerned regarding the arrest, detention and brutal torture inflicted against De Silva by the military officers and the police. De Silva had no charges filed against him to warrant his arrest and subsequent detention.  The victim believes that the argument he had with one of the military man on a day before the arrest could have been the reason why they did it to him.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to relevant authorities listed below urging for their immediate intervention into the victim's case. An independent and credible inquiry must be conducted to have the allegations against the military men involved investigated. The police must also be investigated as why it detained the victim without formal charges and for their inaction to provide him medical attention. Immediate sanctions must also be imposed upon the military and policemen involved once investigation commences.

 

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35. SRI LANKA: Brutal assault on a 65-year-old by the Kananke Police at the instigation of a third party

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

21 May 2007

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UA-165-2007: SRI LANKA: Brutal assault on a 65-year-old by the Kananke Police at the instigation of a third party

 

SRI LANKA: Brutal torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of the right to food and water; police threat and intimidation; fabrication of charges; blatant inefficiency of human rights commission

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the brutal assault of a 65-year-old man by several members of the Kananke Police in the Matara District allegedly at the inducement of a third party. Later he was produced before the Magistrate's Court under fabricated charges and remanded. When he complained to the ASP-Galle, regarding the incident, the case had been referred back to the Kananke Police—the same police station where he was tortured. When he complained to the Human Rights Commission, Matara Branch, he was informed there was no evidence of any violation of his fundamental rights. Now the victim wonders where he should ask for help in seeking a legal remedy for the damage he have been received from the public authorities.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 11 June 2006 around 10:00pm  Mallikage Ariyadasa, 65, was arrested by the Kananke Police and taken to the Kananke Police Station in the Matara District—allegedly at the instigation of an influential third party. At the Police Station, he was handcuffed and severely assaulted by several policemen in the most inhumane and brutal manner. Mr. Ariyadasa says that they assaulted him with their fists and boots until he collapsed to the floor. Then they dragged him along the floor to a holding cell where he was kept without food or water for almost 2 days.

 

The next day (June 12, 2006) the Police took Mr. Ariyadasa to see a doctor at the Immaduwa District Hospital where he managed to tell the doctor that he had been assaulted by the police. On June 13, Mr. Ariyadasa was taken to the Matara Magistrate's Court and charged with a criminal case which he insists the charge was fabricated. However he was remanded by the Magistrate and sent to the remand prison. After he brought his injuries to the notice of remand officials, they afforded him medical treatment for his injuries at the remand hospital.

 

During this time, Mr. Ariyadasa's son Indika Kumara visited the Kananke Police Officer in Charge (OIC) and inquired from him the status of his father. The OIC had advised him to meet with a lawyer named Priyani who would assist him in obtaining bail for his father. Accordingly, Mr. Kumara visited lawyer Priyani, paid her the required fees and got Mr. Ariyadasa released on bail. He however later discovered that lawyer Priyani was in fact the wife of the said OIC of the Kananke Police.

 

Later Mr. Ariyadasa complained about the incident to the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Galle and in response was informed to attend the Kananke Police Station on 12 July 2006 at 9:30pm presumably for an inquiry into the incident. Ironically this was the same police station at which he was severely assaulted and thus it is hardly likely that justice would be served at that police station. When Mr. Ariyadasa arrived at the Police Station a policeman informed him that the OIC was not present and thus to return after 2:00pm. When he returned at the said time, he was taken to meet with the OIC who addressed him rudely and in threatening language. The OIC told him that if Mr. Ariyadasa ever again complained to 'high-up places' (e.g. the ASP-Galle), he would (falsely) charge the victim for the possession of bombs and put the victim into larger problems including long time imprisonment at the remand prison.

 

At this point it is worth noting that under the Offensive Weapons Act, bail can only be obtained from the Court of Appeal in Colombo. As most people in rural areas are financially and otherwise unable to travel to Colombo, retain a lawyer and obtain bail from the Court of Appeal, it is not unusual for suspects to languish in remand for a few years until their cases are finally heard and disposed of. Thus it is common that this law is frequently utilised by the police to intimidate, threaten or harass torture victims and their families subsequent to the torture.

 

Mr. Ariyadasa further said that on 11 June 2006 a little while before he was arrested, several of his neighbours known as 'Dokan', Peththa', Wiliyens' and others had forcibly entered his house and stolen Rs. 37, 000 in cash. They had then maliciously lodged a complaint against Mr. Ariyadasa implicating him with sexually abusing 2 boys.

 

On 20 July 2006, Mr. Ariyadasa also complained about this incident to the Matara branch of the Human Rights Commission (HRCSL). On 27 March 2007 he received a reply in the form of a letter (ref. HRC/MT/54/07) in which the HRCSL informed him that the information provided by him did not have enough evidence to support the claim that his fundamental rights have been violated, and therefore the HRCSL was disposing of the case. To this response, Mr. Ariyadasa, from the little legal knowledge he has acquired during this rather traumatic period, wonders how the people could deny the violation of the rights of the victim while noting that he was arbitrarily arrested and detained for over two days, brutally tortured and threatened to be charged with a fabricated case.

 

Mr. Ariyadasa has complained in writing to all the authorities concerned including the Inspector General of Police (IGP), National Police Commission, the HRCSL Head Office in Colombo, and others demanding immediate disciplinary and legal action be taken against the alleged perpetrators of the Kananke Police. He has also requested that future inquiries regarding his case be held at the HRC-Head Office.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take immediate legal and disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators, who illegally arrested, detained him without food or water and then tortured the victim causing him severe injuries. Also please urge them to take appropriate measures against the members of the Matara Branch of the Human Rights Commission for their inefficiency and negligence. Please also urge them to ensure that appropriate compensation be paid to the victim for the gross violation of his fundamental rights.    

 

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36. SRI LANKA: Alleged illegal detention and torture of two men by police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

8 June 2007

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UA-183-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged illegal detention and torture of two men by police   

 

SRI LANKA: Illegal detention; torture; inadequate police investigation; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received two further alleged torture cases committed by Sri Lankan police. In one case, the 17-year-old victim was illegally arrested by the the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Vavuniya police on 22 May 2007, and subjected to brutal torture. It is reported that the police allegedly implicated him into the false charge of the procession of bullets. In another case, a 25-year old three wheeler driver was arrested by the Peradeniya police on suspicion of being involved in a murder case on 20 May 2007 and brutally tortured. In both cases the victims were detained in police custody for more than 24 hours without being produced to court in violation of the law. Both victims are being detained in the remand prisons, while their family members insist that the police arbitrarily charged them without sufficient evidence.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

Ruwantha Chrishantha Dias is a 17-year-old boy residing at 122, Tekkawatte, Vavuniya. He was allegedly picked up by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Vavuniya police on 22 May 2007, when he was going to a tailor shop. One of the officers who illegally arrested him was identified as Karunarathne. The police did not produce any arrest warrant or other valid documents for his arrest.

 

He was then taken to the Vavuniya police station, where he was brutally tortured. The police removed his clothes and tortured him, while forcing him to accept the charge of possessing 5 bullets. However, Ruwantha denied the accusation.

 

According to the general penal law of Sri Lanka, a person arrested must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. However, Ruwantha was only produced to the court with false charges of possessing 5 bullets on June 7, 16 days after his illegal arrest and detention. He was then remanded by the magistrate until June 11 and is currently detained at Anuradapura remand prison. 

 

Meanwhile, Ruwantha's parents lodged a complaint to the Office of the Human Rights Commission in Vavuniya (Entry No: H.R.C. V 763-2007). The parents challenge the police claim against their son and believe that the police mistakenly arrested and then tortured Ruwantha and then framed the false charge against him to cover up the incident.   

 

Ruwantha's father Anthony Dias is a security guard at the Sampath Bank. Ruwantha has just completed his schooling and was waiting to continue on to higher education.

 

In another case, Gnanapragasam Benedict Rosery, a 25-year-old three wheeler driver living at Uda Peradeniya, Kandy, was brutally tortured by the Peradeniya police. In the evening of 20 May 2007, one three wheeler driver named Bonniface asked him to go for a bath together with another man named Suresh. According to the victim, Boniface and Suresh accompanied him to his house after the bath and he said good bye to them.

 

On the following morning (May 21), Benedict came to know that Suresh had been murdered. He says that strangely on that morning, Boniface sent him Suresh's purse, which he refused to receive. Benedict then went to the Peradeniya police station to inform them of the incidents of the previous day and the morning. However, police immediately took him into their custody instead. Benedict was allegedly brutally tortured by police, who forced him to confess murdering Suresh. Meanwhile, Boniface was also reportedly arrested by police with charge of murder.

 

On May 22, Benedict's mother informed the incident of her son to a local partner of the AHRC, who immediately reported the incident to the HRC Hotline in Kandy and asked for their intervention to stop the on-going torture of Benedict. He was only produced before court on May 23 in violation of the law. The court then ordered him to be remanded until June 4. He was further remanded by court on June 4. He is currently detained at Bogambara Prison in Kandy.

 

Meanwhile, Benedict's mother Arulmary moved to her sister's house at Meekanuwa Ampitiya fearing possible intimidation and harassment by the police. The mother insists upon the innocence of her son and believes that the police implicated Benedic into Suresh's murder case without concrete evidence in order to conclude the case quickly. 

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

Sri Lanka has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in 1994 and introduced the correspondent local legislation called the CAT Act No 22 of 1994, which outlaws torture. Punishment of committing torture under this Act is seven to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine not less than 10,000 rupees and not exceeding 50,000 rupees.

 

However, in reality only very few state officers have been convicted under this Act for the last 12 years, while torture remains endemic at police stations cross the whole country. For instance, the U.N. Committee against Torture stated in its 2005 conclusions and recommendations, "The Committee expresses its deep concern about continued well documented allegations of widespread torture and ill treatment as well as disappearances, mainly committed by the State’s police forces. It is also concerned that such violations by law enforcement officials are not investigated promptly and impartially by the State party’s competent authorities." [CAT/C/LKA/CO/2, 15 December 2005, Article 12]

 

Torture is being used as the 'only effective method' for investigation by Sri Lankan police, who are poorly equipped and trained, although Article 12 of the CAT Act No. 22 of 1994 strictly prohibit torture from being used for the purpose of obtaining any information or confession from a person. It is also very common practice in Sri Lanka that police arrest and arbitrarily charge innocent persons to quickly conclude pending crimes cases. In most of such cases, it is the people from poor and marginalized sectors who are targeted by police. Torture and other human rights abuses committed by the police are getting worse under the conflict situation in the country.  

 

The two cases mentioned above exactly shows these aspects. In both cases, the police brutally tortured the victims to extract their confession rather than conducting investigation to collect sufficient evidence. Presumption of innocence until conviction, one fundamental right of the accused, has been completely ignored by the police. It should also be noted that torture is strictly prohibited by domestic and international laws even for those criminals.     

 

The HRC of Sri Lanka has adopted a zero tolerance policy against torture but its recommendations are frequently ignored by the government authorities. Also, the National Police Commission, a government institution responsible for sanctions of the police forces, has recently created a speedy inquiry mechanism into the alleged crimes by the police in accordance with the Rules of Procedure (Public Complaints) 2007. According to the Rules, the NPC should complete the investigation into the case within one month after receiving the complaint.

 

Despite all these domestic mechanisms for the purpose of preventing and punishing the act of torture, most torture perpetrators escape from their legal responsibility due to lack of implementation of those mechanisms by the Sri Lankan government.

 

The brutality of torture and the impact of several decades of instability on the Sri Lankan policing system have been thoroughly documented in a number of reports published by the Asian Legal Resource Centre, the sister organization of the AHRC. For details, please see the reports published in the ALRC's bimonthly publication article 2: Special report: Torture committed by the police in Sri Lanka (Vol. 1, No. 4, August 2002) and Second special report: Endemic torture and the collapse of policing in Sri Lanka (Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2004).

 

To see basic guidelines of preventing torture described in the CAT Act No 22 of 1994, also see: http://www.hrschool.org/doc/mainfile.php/lesson28/58/

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the local authorities listed below and demand the prompt and thorough investigation into the alleged two torture cases and take action against those responsible police officers. Please also demand that the victims are immediately released if there is no sufficient evidence to prove their guilty acts. Please also urge them to strictly implement the CAT Act. No 22 of 1994 and other domestic provisions preventing and punishing act of torture.  For your information, the AHRC has already reported the two cases to the U,N. Special Rapporteur on torture for his intervention. 

 

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37. SRI LANKA: Alleged torture and fabrication of charges of a man by the Katadeniyawa police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

11 June 2007

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UA-184-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged torture and fabrication of charges of a man by the Katadeniyawa police

 

SRI LANKA: Illegal arrest; torture; fabrication of charges; intimidation; poor police investigation

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by the alleged torture and fabrication of charges against a man by the Kotadeniyawa police. According to the information from the Human Rights Citizens Committee in Gampha district, Mr. T.G. Chaminda Weerawardene, who resides in Divulapitiya, Negombo district was illegally arrested on 2 June 2007 and brutally tortured by the Kotadeniyawa police. The victim was released on police bail on the following day. More seriously, the victim allegedly received death threats by the Kotadeniyawa police, while being warded at the hospital for the treatment. As a result the victim had to discharge himself from the hospital and was admitted to another one. We are also informed that the Kotadeniyawa police alleged fabricated false charges against the victim to cover up their crimes. We call for your urgent action to support the victim.

 

CASE DETAILS: (based on the complaint made by the victim's father)

 

Mr. Thalahitiya Gamaralalage Chaminda Weerawardene is a Sinhalese man residing at Akkara Nine Waththe of Ullapola, Divulapitiya, Negombo district, Negombo division, Sri Lanka. On 22 May 2007, he went to Ragama Teaching Hospital to see his wife and returned home at around 4:00pm. When he was having a meal two policemen in civilian clothes entered the house and apprehended him and his father Mr. Mr. Thalahitiya Gamaralalage Weerawardene. Despite their repeated request, the two men in civilian clothes did not reveal their identification. Then Mr. T.G. Chaminda Weerawardene immediately went to the Divulapitiya police station and reported illegal entry by unidentified men. When he came back to home along with the officers of the Divulapitiya police station, it was learned that the two men in civilian clothes were officers of the Katadeniyawa police station. The two Katadeniyawa police officers then left. Subsequently, the father and the son made individual entries at the Divulapitiya police station regarding this incident (Entry No. M 01 B262/250).  

 

At around 7:30pm on 2 June 2007, Mr. T.G. Chaminda Weerawardene was arrested by the officers from the Kotadeniyawa police station, when he was waiting for his mother, who went to the Buddhist temple at the Ambagahamula Harware Stores in Ullapola village. The police neither told the victim the reason for his arrest nor present the arrest warrant. Soon after arresting the victim, the police officers allegedly assaulted him in a severe manner. The victim was then taken to the Rural Hospital at Horagasmulla for a medical check-up. Mr. T.G. Chaminda Weerawardene said that the police officers threatened him to lie to the attending doctor that he got injures by falling from a bicycle. Due to fear, he made a false statement to the doctor. After that he was taken to the Kotadeniyawa police station. On the way, he was again brutally beaten by the police officers and while in the police station he was also tortured.

 

On the following day (June 3), Mr. T.G. Chaminda Weerawardene was released on police bail. He then got admission at the Rural Hospital at Horagasmulla for treatment for the injuries sustained from torture. However, the Kotadeniyawa police visited the victim at the hospital and allegedly threatened him with death. Due to the threats by the police he had to discharge himself from the hospital and went to the Negombo District Hospital, where he was admitted in ward 6.

 

Meanwhile, police post in the Negombo District Hospital did not record any statement from the victim until June 6. When an activist inquired about this matter by phone, they allegedly refused to do so. The victim says that the police post at the hospital took down his name between 4 to 5pm on June 6 but did not record his statement relating to torture. It is also alleged that the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) delayed of examining the victim until June 7. The JMO examined the victim at around 11:00am on June 7 and recorded the victim's statement regarding his torture by the police.

 

Meanwhile, it is alleged that the Kotadeniyawa police filed a false case of selling illicit liquor against the victim. The case will be called on 11 June 2007. 

  

SUGGESTED ACTION: Please write to the local authorities listed below and demand the prompt and thorough investigation into the alleged torture case and take action against those responsible. Please also urge them to strictly implement the CAT Act. No 22 of 1994 and other domestic provisions preventing and punishing act of torture.  For your information, the AHRC has already reported this case to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture for his intervention.

 

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38. SRI LANKA: Alleged assault of two men by the Meegahatenna police in Kalutara

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

14 June 2007

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UA-190-2007: SRI LANKA: Alleged assault of two men by the Meegahatenna police in Kalutara

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; brutal manner of police investigation; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about an alleged assault of two men, who are relatives each other, by one sub inspector of the Meegahatenna police station in Mathugama district, Kalutara division, Sri Lanka on 5 March 2007. The victims say that the concerned SI was under the influence of alcohol when he assaulted them. The alleged reason behind the assault is land dispute. The victims complained to various government authorities including Superintendent of Police in Kalutara division, Inspector General of Police and the Chairperson of the National Police Commission. However, no serious disciplinary or legal action has yet been taken against the concerned Sub Inspector.

 

CASE DETAILS: (based on the testimony of the victims)

 

On 4 March 2007, Mr. Jayasingh Archchilage Somadasa, an 80-year-old man residing in Saman, Wele Gewatte, Palawatte, received a paper from the Meegahatenna police station calling him to report to the police station for an inquiry on the next day. The paper was delivered to the house where his relative named Mr. Mallawa Archchige Pradeep had lived. He thought that the inquiry would be related to the complaint that he had made to the police station on 27 September 2006. His complaint had been completely ignored at that time.

 

On 5 March 2007, Mr. J.A. Somadasa went to the Meegahatenna police station as he was instructed. But once he arrived at the police station, he came to know that the inquiry was not about his complaint on 27 September 2006 but another complaint of the land dispute in which his name was referred as one disputing party. According to the victim, one Sub Inspector Hemapala abused him with foul and filthy language while inquiring about the details of the land dispute. When Mr. J.A. Somadasa said that he gave the disputed land to his nephew M.A. Pradeep, the SI Hemapala shouted at him and told him to bring his nephew.

 

At that time, Mr. M.A. Pradeep was coincidently presented at the same police station to withdraw a complaint he had made before. When he was leaving the police station, he heard that his uncle Mr. J.A. Somadasa called him from behind. When he turned back, he saw that the SI Hemapala was hitting on his uncle's chest with a huge book.

 

Then the SI Hemapala hit M.A. Pradeep on his ear, shoulders and then dragged him by his shirt and pushed him towards a table. Although he repeatedly asked the SI for the reason of his assault, the SI Hemapala simply ignored him and assaulted him again. Mr. M.A. Pradeep was then ordered to sit on a bench nearby. Other people in the police station witnessed the incident. The victims report that the SI Hemapala seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.

 

Later, the uncle and the nephew lodged their written complaints to various government authorities, including Chairman of the NPC, the IGP, the Assistant Superintendent of Police (Legal), SP of the Kalutara division, demanding disciplinary and legal action against the concerned SI. However, no serious action has yet been taken to investigate the incident and punish the responsible SI.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

Torture is being used as the 'only effective method' for investigation by Sri Lankan police, who are poorly equipped and trained, although the domestic CAT Act No. 22 of 1994 outlaws torture. This case shows that how easily the police outrange the mandate with his position in order to get information that the police want instead of conducting proper investigation.

 

In fact, the practice of torture at police stations in Sri Lanka is endemic. In its 2005 Concluding Observations on the state party's periodic report, the Committee against Torture express its deep concern about "widespread torture, ill treatment and disappearances" mainly committed by the police forces. The Committee also expressed its concern that such violations by law enforcement officials "are not investigated promptly and impartially". [Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture; CAT/C/LKA/CO/2 ]

 

In terms of domestic mechanisms to prevent and punish the acts of torture, the punishment in the corresponding CAT Act (No 22 of 1994) is a period of seven to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 to 50,000 rupees. Besides, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has adopted a 'Zero Tolerance Policy' against torture and also the NPC has recently created a speedy inquiry mechanism into the alleged crimes committed by the police in accordance with the Rules of Procedure (Public Complaints) 2007. According to the Rules, the NPC should complete the investigation within one month after receiving the complaint.

 

Despite of these domestic mechanisms, in reality only very few state officers have been convicted with torture under CAT Act for the last 12 years, while torture remains endemic at police stations cross the whole country. This is mainly due to lack of implementation of those mechanisms by the Sri Lankan government. In reality, torture cases are often investigated by the local police who are fellow colleagues of the alleged torture perpetrator(s); the accused officers are seldom subjected to suspension during the investigation. As a result, in many cases, torture victims face further harassment or intimidation by perpetrators when they pursue their cases against them.

 

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the local authorities listed below and demand the prompt and thorough investigation into the alleged torture case and take action against the responsible. Please also urge them to strictly implement the CAT Act. No 22 of 1994 and other domestic provisions preventing and punishing torture. For your information, the AHRC has already reported this case to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture for his intervention.

 

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39. SRI LANKA: Savage assault of a father of five, by the Eheliyagoda Police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

28 June 2007

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UA-210-2007: SRI LANKA: Savage assault of a father of five, by the Eheliyagoda Police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; grievous assault; arbitrary arrest; remanding of an injured man by the Magistrate

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the savage assault of a father of five by the Eheliyagoda Police—allegedly on the instigation of his wife. The victim was hit and kicked all over his body and when he fell down, trampled with heavy police boots. He was handcuffed the whole night at the police station and later produced before the Magistrate’s Court where he courageously revealed details of the police assault. Nonetheless, he was remanded. In remand prison, he was taken ill and had to be treated in the remand hospital until he was released on bail more than one week later.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At around 7:30pm on 28 May 2007 43-year-old M.A.K. Wickramasinghe was returning home from work when he was accosted by 4 policemen attached to the Eheliyagoda Police Station. They immediately began to inhumanly assault him all over his body. They allegedly assaulted him with their fists and poles, kicked him and even struck him with the torch he was carrying. Unable to withstand the blows, the victim had fallen down only to be kicked and trampled by the policemen’s heavy boots.

 

The policemen then pushed the victim into the police vehicle and took him to the Eheliyagoda Police Station where he was handcuffed and thrown into a holding cell. He was thus handcuffed throughout the night, notwithstanding he was in severe pain from the assault.

 

The next afternoon (29), the victim was taken to the Magistrate’s Court and there he informed the Magistrate about the inhuman assault by the police. Nonetheless, the Magistrate ordered him to be remanded until 6 June 2007. Accordingly, he was taken to the Kuruvita remand prison where a prison officer recorded his statement regarding the incident. The victim says that he told the prison officer details about the savage attack by the Eheliyagoda police. Thereafter the victim had to be warded at the prison hospital and treated for his physical injuries. He was enlarged on bail on 6 June.

 

The victim complains that consequent to the assault, his legs swelled up and there is a large wound on one leg caused by a pole used by the police to thrash him. The victim also says that he believes this police attack was as a result of a complaint made by his wife against him.

 

According to the victim, all 4 policemen were in uniform and arrived in a police vehicle. While positively recognising Police Constable (PC) Ajith among his attackers, the victims is confident he can recognize the others if seen again.

 

The victim has now complained in writing inter alia to the Chairperson—Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Ratnapura District, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). In his correspondence he has urged that the severe police assault, illegal arrest and detention was a violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Sri Lankan Constitution and as such it is the duty of these authorities to take stern disciplinary and legal action against the 4 policemen (including PC Ajith) of the Eheliyagoda Police Station.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take immediate legal and disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators, who illegally arrested and tortured the victim, causing him severe injuries. Please also urge them to ensure that the victim is afforded medical treatment for his injuries and that he is paid appropriate compensation for the gross violation of his fundamental rights.    

 

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40. SRI LANKA: Young woman brutally stabbed to death by members of Armed Forces

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

13 July 2007

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UA-221-2007: SRI LANKA: Young woman brutally stabbed to death by members of Armed Forces

 

SRI LANKA: Extrajudicial killing; fear to complain; fear of reprisal; lack of witness protection and security

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the gruesome stabbing unto death of a 27-year-old woman by Army personnel or members of the Special Task Force (STF) in Paduwankarai, in the Batticaloa District. Accordingly several personnel in military uniform had come to the house she was staying and shouted her name. When she failed to respond they stormed inside, and escorted her out. There, they had brutally stabbed her about 12 times in the presence of her mother. The Victim succumbed to her injuries shortly.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

On 7 July 2007 Balasuntharam Thavamani (27), her mother and about 20 other persons displaced by the ongoing armed conflict were seeking refuge in a single house at Paduwankarai in the Batticaloa District, in the Eastern province. This area has been a stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) until last week when state security forces wrested the area from the rebels.

 

Around 9.30 pm that night, several men in military uniform suddenly stormed into the house and shouted for the victim by name. As the victim failed to respond due to intense fear, the personnel entered the home and forcibly escorted her out.

 

When the victim’s mother followed them wailing and shouting, they stabbed the young woman in the presence of her mother—a distance of about 100 meters from the home. She succumbed to her death on the spot after being stabbed about 12 times.

 

Subsequent to this killing about 35 families in the village, fearing for their lives, fled the village and went to a nearby area. Thereafter they related details of the story to their Member of Parliament, Mr. Ariyanthiran. They are reluctant to report the incident to the authorities due to fear of reprisals. However, some of the witnesses to the incident insist they can recognize the alleged perpetrators if they are seen again.

 

Therefore AHRC urges all relevant state authorities to (a) cause an inquest to be conducted by the Magistrate, (b) conducted an impartial investigation and inquiry into the circumstances of the death—including an identification parade, (c) provide witness protection and security to potential witnesses to enable them to come forward and give evidence and (d) take immediate disciplinary and legal proceedings against the perpetrators.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take an immediate action into the case and also urge them to provide compensation for the deceased’ family without more delay. The AHRC separately will report this case to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions to call for his intervention into this case.

 

 

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41. SRI LANKA: Man severely tortured by the Badureliya police; Court denies medical examination of torture victim

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

19 July 2007

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UA-228-2007: SRI LANKA: Man severely tortured by the Badureliya police; Court denies medical examination of torture victim

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; police brutality; arbitrary arrest; illegal detention; threat; witness protection; fabrication of charge; denial of medial treatment; magistrate's failure to order medical examination and treatment

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the torture, illegal arrest and detention and the fabrication of charges of a 42-year-old man by the police. He was brutally tortured and denied medical treatment. His lawyer informed court about the torture but despite of the threat to his life the Magistrate took no action.

 

CASE DETAILS: (based on the victim's testimony)

 

At 11:30am on 27 June 2007, the victim, U.A. Chandrasena was on his way to a funeral when he was stopped by four policemen in civilian dress who asked him where the Kasippu (illicit liquor) was. The victim replied that he did not know. The policemen took him to a nearby volleyball court and mercilessly assaulted him with thick wooden sticks broken from an Albesia fence. He was beaten on his legs, thighs, buttocks, hands and even on his head. The severely injured victim was then taken to the police station and locked up in a cell where he saw three other villagers who had met a similar fate as himself.

 

Soon the victim's head began to throb and he vomited several times. He begged the police to take him to hospital. The police replied that he could go to hospital if he wished, but if he revealed even a word about his assault they would fabricate a case against him for possessing hard drugs (Heroine) or Ganja (Marijuana) and lock him up again. That night the victim was given police bail on the condition that he appeared in court on June 29 on the charge of possessing Kasippu. When the victim denied the charge, the police laughed and told him they already had the 'goods' and all they needed were a few scapegoats. 

 

The victim returned to his home. He says he was very sick but was too afraid to go to hospital to seek medical treatment for his injuries. Instead, he visited a private dispensary and told the doctor he had been assaulted by the police. But when he asked for a medical report, the doctor refused and even withdrew the medication dispensed to him.

 

The victim appeared in court on the 29th. His lawyer discovered that he had not been charged with the possession of Kasippu but with the possession of an illegal substance called 'goda' used to distil Kasippu which was a much graver charge. The victim pleaded not guilty. The lawyer informed court that the victim had been severely assaulted by the police who had now fabricated charges against him. The Magistrate asked the victim if he had any injuries. In reply the victim showed the Magistrate contusions visible on his body. However the Magistrate did not make any direction that he be taken to hospital or medically examined. The victim returned home and decided to seek medical treatment from another private dispensary.

 

To date, more than 2 weeks after the incident, the victim's body still shows marks of the police assault (To see the photo). He also complains of pain and disability of his right shoulder and hand. The victim was brought to a local Human Rights Organisation, Janasansadaya (People's Forum) by a kindly villager. The organisation immediately rushed the victim to the Nagoda Hospital for treatment. They also made provisions for him to be medically examined by a specialist at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital where the severity of the injuries was confirmed by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO).

 

The victim is a manual worker and illiterate. He had been orphaned since he was 3 years old and has no family or relatives of his own. Currently, he is no longer able to pursue even the only meagre livelihood he had due to the several bodily injuries and persistent pain caused by the police torture. As such he has now been rendered truly destitute.

 

The victim has now complained in writing inter alia to the Chairperson—Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other relevant authorities. In his correspondence he has urged that the severe police assault on his person, illegal arrest and detention as well as the fabrication of charges is a violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Sri Lankan Constitution and as such it is the duty of these authorities to take stern disciplinary and legal action against the Badureliya Police. He has also demanded that he be afforded medical treatment and also that he be adequately compensated.

 

The AHRC urges all relevant Sri Lankan authorities to cause an immediate investigation and inquiry into the incident and forthwith take stern disciplinary and legal action against the alleged perpetrators. The AHRC also urges that authorities to afford medical treatment for the serious injuries caused to the victim and adequately compensate him, for the loss of livelihood, as well as the physical and mental trauma caused to him by agents of the state. Lastly the AHRC is perturbed about the shocking disregard of the Magistrate even after such a brutal incident was brought to the court's attention and the victim had showed his injuries. Therefore the AHRC calls upon the Judicial Service Commission to take disciplinary measures against the said Magistrate and also ensure - through appropriate training and awareness-raising - that members of the judiciary act with more responsibility and sensitivity towards victims of police torture and other forms of police ill-treatment.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to take immediate legal and disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators, who illegally arrested and tortured the victim, causing him severe injuries. Please also urge them to ensure that the victim is afforded medical treatment for his injuries and that he is paid appropriate compensation for the gross violation of his fundamental rights.    

 

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42. UPDATE(Sri Lanka): Family of 15-year-old victim of physical violence pressured by Police to withdraw complaint against alleged perpetrator

 

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Update on Urgent Appeal

 

24 July 2007

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UP-103-2007: SRI LANKA: Family of 15-year-old victim of physical violence pressured by Police to withdraw complaint against alleged perpetrator

 

SRI LANKA: Brutal physical assault; corporal punishment; cruelty to children; police failure to conduct investigations; police pressure to withdraw complaint; violation of right to education

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information that the family of a 15-year-old girl, who was struck 20 times on 18 June 2007 by a male school teacher in the Kegalle district, is now being severely pressured by the Kegalle Police to withdraw their complaint against the alleged perpetrator. The Police have also informed the victim's mother that it was not proper to complain against one of her colleagues.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

Last month, the AHRC reported that a 15-year-old girl, who was a Grade 10 student at the Hettimulla Bandaranayake School in the Kegalle District in Sri Lanka, was publicly caned about 20 times by her English teacher, P. Elapperuma, after the teacher accused her of 'being seen talking to a boy on the road'. The incident took place on 18 June 2007. The teacher had also used disparaging and foul language on her and threatened to repeat the beating. Such brutality and humiliation in front of her colleagues severely mentally traumatised the victim who had to be hospitalised for 2 days for her physical injuries. Ever since, the victim has refused to go to school, thus seriously jeopardising her educational future. Subsequently, the victim's parents complained to the relevant educational and policing authorities regarding the violation of their daughter's rights. They urged that immediate investigations be conducted into the incident and that legal and disciplinary action be taken against the alleged perpetrator. (For more information see UA-208-2007)

 

According to the updated information received, initial investigations into the incident have been carried out by the Women's and Children's Unit of the Kegalle Police. However, later on, it was taken over by the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Crimes branch of the same Police Station. The victim's mother strongly believes that the reason for this sudden transfer of duty is due to this particular policeman's vested interest in the case.

 

Then, on 22 July 2007, the victim's mother was requested to come to the Police Station together with her daughter. Interestingly, the police had also summoned the boy - who was allegedly seen with the victim on the road - as well as his parents, despite their presence being quite irrelevant to the allegations against the male teacher - namely, of physically attacking the victim. Thereafter, the police had proceeded to level various accusations at the boy of 'having an affair' with the victim.

 

The next day (23 July 2007), a female Police Constable (WPC) visited the victim's mother at the school where she worked as a teacher at around 9am and escorted her to the police station to meet with the Head Quarters' Inspector (HQI). According the the victim’s mother’s testimoney, the HQI spoke sternly to her and accused her of complaining against a fellow teacher, suggesting that this was an improper thing to do. The HQI then told the mother to return to the police station on Wednesday, 25 July 2007, together with her daughter, the victim, apparently to meet with the alleged perpetrator and 'settle' the matter. The mother was adamant not to enter into any kind of settlement, however, she was worried she may be coerced and intimidated by the police to do so. Thus, she complained of constant direct and indirect pressure - especially by the Kegalle Police, including senior police officers - to withdraw her complaint.

 

According to the victim's mother, to date, the police have failed to record statements from any eyewitnesses to the incident. The set of students (eyewitnesses) whose names were given to the police have now refused to come forward, as certain third parties have 'convinced' them not to do so. Now, although the victim has submitted another set of names, her mother fears that they too will meet the same fate as the initial lot.

 

Meanwhile, the alleged perpetrator, Mr. Elapperuma continues to teach at the same school. Despite immediate notification of the incident to the education authorities - numerous though they are – they have failed to conduct an inquiry and take disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator. Neither have they taken any meaningful steps to find another school for the victim and restore her right to education.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

Physically brutalising children and causing them serious injuries is a clear violation of education department regulations, fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution as well as the criminal law of Sri Lanka. Namely, such an act is in violation of:

 

1. Circular No. ED/01/12/01/04/24, issued by the Education Department on 11 May 2005 to all local schools, prohibiting the use of corporal punishment on school children in Sri Lanka.

 

2. Article 11 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, which states that everyone has the rights not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment or punishment.

 

3. Section 308A (1) of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka which explicitly prevents the cruelty to children. Accordingly, whoever commits the offence of cruelty to children shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not less than 2 years and not exceeding 10 years and may also punished with fine and ordered to pay compensation of an amount determined by the court.

 

It is also a violation of Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC), to which Sri Lanka is a state party.

 

Therefore the AHRC urges the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to issue stern instructions to the Kegalle Police including the HQI to immediately desist pressuring the victim’s family to withdraw their complaints. We also request that investigation and inquiry into the incident be handed over to another police unit, as it seems amply clear that the Kegalle police are partial towards the interests of the alleged perpetrator. Furthermore, we also urge the relevant education authorities take prompt steps to allocate a new school for the victim to ensure her right to education as well as to hold inquiry and take disciplinary action against the errant teacher.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below, expressing your serious concern about the violation of a 15-year-old girl's rights including her right to education. Please also condemn the shameful act of the male teacher of the Hettimulla Bandaranayake School for brutalising a young female student. Please urge them to take immediate action to find a new school for the victim and also take stern discipline and legal action against the teacher as soon as possible.

 

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43. SRI LANKA: Yet another custodial death in Ratgama police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

2 August 2007

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UA-240-2007: SRI LANKA: Yet another custodial death in Ratgama police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; custodial death; denial of jail visit; absence of rule of law

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform you of yet another death of a man, Thadallage Chamil Weerasena (29), in custody of the Ratgama police following his arrest on 21 July 2007. Before he died, he told one of his friends that the police had mercilessly beaten him and shown his to her his injuries. His death was suspicious but the report signed by the Magistrate Galle concluded he died of hanging. No fresh investigation was conducted regarding questions to the cause of death.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At around 5am on 21 July 2007, an anonymous caller informed Thadallage Chamil Weerasena's mother, Kande Gamis Hamy, that her son has been taken in by the Ratgama police. The phone number recorded was 091 22 67222. But when Hamy redialed the said number, the person who answered it denied calling and hang up.

 

At 8am Hamy went to the Ratgama police station. She saw her son detained inside the police cell. When she tried to go near him a female constable and another officer chased her away. Her son, however, signaled to his mother by his hands that he needed a shirt.

 

Then Hamy went home to get a sarong, a shirt and cooked a lunch packet for his son. She asked one of the victim's friends, Kosma Nandaseeli, to supposedly give those to him. The Reserve officer allowed Nandaseeli to visit the victim, but did not allow her to give him food and shirt she was carrying for him but only sarong. At this time the victim told her that the police had assaulted him mercilessly. He had shown her the marks he sustained from the assault.

 

When the victim's elder brother, Thadallage Suriyasena, went to visit him at around 2pm and 4pm, the police did not allow him. Later that night, at about 11:20pm two police officers from the Ratgama police came to the victim's house in a jeep and took his father, Thadallage Tyman, to the police station.

 

The victim's youngest brother, Thadallage Jayantha, arrived shortly informing his mother that his brother had already died. Upon hearing the news, Hamy and her elder son immediately rushed to the police station. There they saw the victim's dead body still inside the cell. It was covered with a sarong given to him by his mother. Hamy said her son's trouser was tied to prison cell's door as high as her height.

 

When she started crying loudly, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the said police station instead threatened to put her inside the cell if she doesn't stop.

 

At about on July 22, when Hamy went to the police station, she noticed that her son's trouser, which was tied about as high as her the previous day, was already at the time tied in a place even higher than it was. At about 9am, a doctor came and took some photographs. At about 9:30am the Magistrate came as well. While they are conducting inquiry, Hamy told them about what she noticed and told them that her son's death was suspicious. Hamy however was not aware whether the doctor and Magistrate had recorded her statements. Thereafter the body was taken to Karapitiya.

 

Hamy has seen her son's dead body from the police's prison cell until it was taken to the Karapitiya hospital. She noticed injuries of assault on the back, chest and face. She had also seen blood on the victim's head. Before it was taken to the hospital, bloodstains were also seen at the detention cell. But the when the findings came out, a letter signed by the additional Magistrate Galle indicated the victim died of hanging.

 

No further investigations however were conducted to look into Hamy's observation regarding the death of her son and the confession the victim had given to a friend who had spoke to him before his death.  It was only on July 27 that the Additional Magistrate Galle had taken statement from Hamy and her husband.

 

There are witnesses that could give testimonies to the police regarding the death of the victim but the police did not include them. For instance, Kosma Nandaseeli was able to speak with him before his death.

 

Three years ago, the Ratgama Police had filed false charges against Thadallage Chamil Weerasena for alleged possession of illegal drugs. He pleaded not guilty and the case remains in progress in court at the time of his death.

 

When the case was heard in June this year, he was not able to attend. His failure to attend the said hearing however has resulted to the issuance of an arrest warrant against him by the court. The police later went to his house three or four times looking for him but he was not there. But there are eye witnesses who said one Sew, who is alleged to have connections with the Ratgama police, caught him and turn him over instead to the police at about 9:30pm on July 20.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

This is not the first time where arrested persons by the Ratgama police died and brutally tortured while in their custody following arrest.

 

In September 2003, a 16-year-old boy, Hikkaduwa Liyanage Sandun Kumara, was also arrested over false charges and was subsequently tortured. He was arrested over allegations he stole an item knew nothing about. The police kicked his legs, dropped him on to his back and trampled him by his shoes. They also hang him up to a tree using his trousers waistband before dropping him to the ground. For further details please read: UP-67-2003.

 

In 27 May 2005, victim Kosma Sumansiri died days after he was taken to a hospital apparently due to the serious injuries he had suffered as a result of brutal beatings by the police. At the time he was arrested together with his three colleagues, he was in good physical condition until he became seriously ill and later died while being treated. For details please read: UA-111-2005.

 

In 16 February 2006, victims D. Indika Wasantha and his wife, Kumudini Malkanthi, who was eight-month pregnant at the time, were also arrested and subsequently brutally beaten by the same police unit. The woman suffered serious injuries threatening the progress of her pregnancy at the time. The couple was arrested following the husband's refusal to lend their vehicle to the police. For details please see: UA-085-2006.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the concerned agencies requesting for a fresh inquiry into the suspicious death of Thadallage Chamil Weerasena. The victim's family and witnesses must be included in the investigation to ensure its credibility. Immediate sanctions must also be imposed against the policemen involved in this case.

 

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44. SRI LANKA: No investigation into the alleged police torture of a local council member in Kandy

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

8 August 2007

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UA-247-2007: SRI LANKA: No investigation into the alleged police torture of a local council member in Kandy

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; police brutality; inaction into the investigation; corruption; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by the alleged torture of a local council member by a Sub Inspector on 21 June 2007. The sub inspector belongs to the Hasalaka police station located in Theldeniya district, Kandy division, Sri Lanka. At the time of the incident the victim was inquiring the allegation of the concerned SI’s involvement in illegal liquor business. The AHRC is particularly concerned that the Hasalaka police have not yet initiated any investigation into this case to date after registering the victim's complaints. As a result, the alleged perpetrator is still free and serving at the police station. The victim demands an impartial investigation of his case by an independent investigating agency to ensure the transparency of the investigation.

 

CASE DETAILS: (based on the victim’s testimony)

 

On 21 June 2007, Jayarathne, a 45-year-old member of Hasalaka local council (Pradeseey Saba), visited the Hasalaka police station in Theldeniya district, Kandy division, Sri Lanka. The purpose of his visit was to inquire an allegation about Sub Inspector (SI) Nuwan Wickramasinghe’s involvement in selling illegal liquor.

 

Being questioned, the SI Nuwan Wickramasinghe allegedly started abusing Jayarathne in filthy language and physically assaulted him in front of others in the police station. While assaulting Jayarathne, the SI further was reported to say, "We, the police, have all powers to arrest, torture and kill anybody." The Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Hasalaka police station later intervened and stopped the beating.

 

On following day, June 22, Jayarathne went to the same police station to lodge a complaint of assault against the said SI. However, the police refused to register his complaint. On June 23, Jayarathne again went to the police station and finally registered his complaint under case number C.I.B (12) 152/282 dated 23/06/07.

 

However, Jayarathne complains that the police have not yet initiated any investigation or arrest the responsible SI to date. The victim is skeptical about the investigation as the investigating officer is the fellow colleague of the alleged perpetrator working at the same police station.

 

This case clearly illustrates what makes torture endemic in police stations in Sri Lanka; failure of proper investigation into torture cases and actual protection of the alleged torture perpetrators which result in the widespread impunity in police forces. There is no doubt what an ordinary person's fate will be at the hands of the policemen in the country where the public servant can be assaulted and threatened by the police without any hesitation.  

 

The AHRC therefore demands that an impartial investigation to the case by the independent investigation agent excluding the local police, and the SI concerned should be arrested and prosecuted under the CAT Act No 22 of 1994 with the charge of torture.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

The AHRC has recently reported similar cases that the police delayed to conduct investigations. For details, please see our previous appeals: UA-218-2007 and UA-093-2007.

 

As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the government of Sri Lanka has responsibilities to prohibit all acts of torture as stated in the two international laws.

 

In terms of domestic mechanisms to prevent and punish the acts of torture, the punishment in the corresponding CAT Act (No 22 of 1994) is a period of seven to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 to 50,000 rupees.

 

In addition, National Police Commission has recently created a speedy inquiry mechanism into the alleged crimes committed by the police in accordance with the Rules of Procedure (Public Complaints) 2007. According to the Rules, the NPC should complete the investigation within a month after receiving the complaint.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the authorities below and urge them to take legal and disciplinary action against those responsible for assaulting Jayarathne and refusing to register the complaint. Please also urge them to investigate the complaint lodged against the police without further delay.

 

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45. SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a 20-year-old man by Galaha police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

 

Urgent Appeal

 

23 August 2007

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UA-259-2007: SRI LANKA: Brutal torture of a 20-year-old man by Galaha police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; police inaction; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the torture of a 20-year-old man by the Galaha police. He was severely tortured despite his defence lawyer's request to the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) not to torture his client in the process of their investigation. In addition, the Magistrate Court also allegedly did not consider the victim’s allegations of torture despite observing the wounds he had suffered.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At 1:50pm on 9 August 2007, Meera Mohideen Gafar was accompanied by his lawyer, Kularatna Bandara, when they went to the Galaha Police Station. The Assistant Superintendent of Police had earlier summoned Meera Mohideen and his uncle, Abdul Kader, to inquire into a murder case that took place at the end of July 2007.

 

Meera Mohideen was handed over to a female police inspector, Ranasinghe. His lawyer, Bandara, then requested the OIC of the CIB, Mr. Talwatte, to question his client properly and without using violence. But when Meera Mohideen's father visited him later at the Galaha police, he discovered that his son had been severely tortured. On following day, he immediately informed his son's lawyer by phone. It is learned that the police officers brutally tortured him by hanging him from the ceiling allegedly inside the Galaha Police while he was being interrogated.

 

Upon learning that his client had been tortured while in police custody, Bandara immediately informed the OIC Mr. Talwatte about the torture his client had suffered, but he instead denied it; effectively exonerating his men without conducting any investigation.

 

On August 10, Meera Mohideen was taken to the Kandy Magistrate Court. While being presented by the police, he stated that he had been severely tortured by the officers on the evening of August 9. He revealed the wounds to his legs and mouth. He could not even walk when he appeared to the court because of his injuries. But nevertheless the Magistrate Court remanded him on August 16 and is presently detained in prison. No medical examination has been conducted to verify the torture. No further investigation was likewise made into his supposed involvement in a murder case to which he maintained his innocence.

 

In the meantime, the victim's family and the lawyer has informed the Human Rights Commission (HRC) hot line in Colombo about the torture and also lodged a written complaint with the HRC of Kandy registered at (HRC/K/S/T/89/). A similar complaint was also filed with the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in Kandy.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

 

This is yet another case of torture perpetrated by the police in Sri Lanka to which the AHRC has reported. As described in our recent appeal UA-240-2007, a man died while in police custody when he was brutally tortured following his arrest. Before he died, he was able to tell a friend the police were torturing him. Later he was found dead inside his detention cell. But the police, however, reported he had committed suicide. No further investigation was conducted into the allegations of torture.

 

In another case UA-247-2007, the police did not take action into the complaint of a man who was allegedly tortured by a police officer. The victim, who is a local council member, was inquiring into the perpetrator's alleged illegal business activities when he was confronted and subsequently tortured. This case illustrates a systematic and routine used of torture and inhumane treatment by the Sri Lankan police as a method of their investigation and punishment.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the local authorities listed below demanding that a thorough investigation into the alleged torture of the victim is conducted. Appropriate action must also be taken against the police officers allegedly involved in accordance with the Sri Lanka's Convention against Torture (CAT) Act. No 22 of 1994. The victim should be released unconditionally if there are no sufficient evidence against him, or if found that the evidence against him is taken by way of torture.

 

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46. SRI LANKA: Assault of a 40-year-old labourer by the Dodangoda Police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

27 August 2007

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UA-261-2007: SRI LANKA: Assault of a 40-year-old labourer by the Dodangoda Police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; illegal arrest; filing of fabricated charge; abuse of authority by the police

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the severe assault of a 40-year-old manual labourer K.W. Upali, allegedly by the Officer-in-Charge of Dodangoda Police and his men. According to the victim, when he failed to satisfy the OIC in answering their questions as to where he purchased the liquor he was carrying the police claimed it to be illegal; the OIC then viciously assaulted him on his neck, face and head. While receiving treatment in a hospital later, the OIC and his men visited him inducing him not to file criminal charges against them. The OIC also allegedly forcibly obtained his signature on a piece of paper without explaining its content.

 

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the victim's statement)

 

On 2 August 2007, the Officer in Charge (OIC) and two other policemen of the Dodangoda Police arrested 40-year-old K.W. Upali (married with three children), in Thudugal Junction. At the time, according to the victim, he was carrying half a bottle of Arrack (a local alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented coconut sap). It is legal to obtain such liquor but the police arbitrarily arrested him. The police took him to a house nearby and questioned him as to whether he purchased the Arrack from that house. But when the victim told them he bought the liquor elsewhere, the OIC lost his temper, accusing him of lying. He assaulted the victim on his neck, face and head. The victim was then taken to the Dodangoda Police Station where he was later bailed out by his friends. The victim was complaining of severe pain on his neck due to the OIC's assault.

 

The following day, August 3, the victim went to the Nagoda Hospital where he was admitted for medical treatment at ward 5B. There, he complained to the doctor examining him that he had been assaulted by the police officers. On August 4 the Hospital Police recorded his statement. The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) likewise examined him. But later that day, the OIC and three other policemen visited him at hospital asking for his forgiveness urging him not to file charges against them. As an inducement, they offered to withdraw the fabricated charge they filed against him for possessing supposedly an illegal alcohol.

 

On August 5, the OIC again went to visit the victim and took him to the hospital police post. The OIC once again asked for his forgiveness and reiterated that in return they would withdraw the case they filed against him. Then he allegedly forced the victim to sign a paper which the OIC did not explain the contents of nor allowed him to read before signing it.

 

On August 6, the victim was discharged from the hospital. He was advised though to continue attending the medical clinic regularly to treat his injured neck. Subsequently the victim filed a written complaint with the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Chairman of the National Police Commission, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Kalutara Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).

 

On behalf of the victim, K.W. Upali, the Asian Human Rights Commission strongly urges all relevant authorities in Sri Lanka, particularly the aforementioned, to take disciplinary and legal action against the OIC and other policemen at the Dodangoda Police Station for allegedly torturing and assaulting the victim. The torture and assault on him has caused physical injuries and seriously impeded his ability to continue his work to support his family.

 

The AHRC also strongly objects to this utterly unacceptable and illegal practice by the police. Firstly, they illegally arrested the victim and subsequently falsely charge him for possession of illegal liquor which could actually be purchased and carried legally. This is case is yet another police assault where victims are thereafter being induced by their perpetrators for settlement to refrain from making complaints against them. This phenomenon has in fact been regularly brought to our notice by numerous victims of police torture.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below urging them to take immediate legal and disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators, who viciously assaulted the victim, causing him severe injuries and thereby jeopardizing his livelihood. The false charge against him must be withdrawn. Please also urge them to ensure that the victim is afforded medical treatment for his injuries and that he is paid appropriate compensation for the violation of his fundamental rights.    

 

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47. SRI LANKA: Driver brutally tortured and falsely charged by the Ganemulla Police

 

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

 

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

 

Urgent Appeal

 

20 September 2007

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UA-283-2007: SRI LANKA: Driver brutally tortured and falsely charged by the Ganemulla Police

 

SRI LANKA: Torture; filing of fabricated charges; police assault; impunity

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Dear friends,

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you of yet another case regarding the brutal torture of a man and the subsequent filing of false charges by the police. The victim, Patikiri Arachchige Nihal Sarathchandra, was arrested on 4 July 2007 and charged by the Ganemulla police for a theft that took place on 13 July 2006. The complainant, Ms. Beatrice Nikalanda, accused him of being an accomplice of persons who stole her jewelry. He was brutally beaten in the presence of the complainant each time he denied involvement in the crime.

 

CASE DETAILS:

 

At around 4:30pm on 4 July 2007, Patikiri Arachchige Nihal Sarathchandra was in Ganemulla, Gampaha District, parking his three-wheel near the Ganemulla Police Station. Two policemen wearing plain clothes arrived and asked him to come with them to their police station. The police were inquiring into the complaint of Ms. Beatrice Nikalanda of Kossinna in Ganemulla made in 13 July 2006. Ms. Nikalanda was complaining about the theft of a necklace and a watch.

 

When Nihal Sarathchandra inquired as to why he was being asked to come, he was only told that he would know the reason once they arrived at the police station. They also did not explain to him as to why he was called in for questioning a year after the complaint was made. Shortly after arriving at the police station, two policemen took him inside a room. There they began questioning him in connection with the complaint of Ms. Nikalanda. He replied that the complainant was not known to him nor had he met her previously.

 

According to the complaint recorded by the police, Ms. Nikalanda was riding in a three wheel vehicle on her way home when two unknown persons snatched her gold necklace and wrist watch soon after alighting from it close to her house. She claimed her necklace worth Rs. 21,000.00 (USD 184.83) while the wrists watch worth Rs 3,500.00 (USD 30.80). She did not mention the victim’s name in her original complaint. However, she now alleges it was the Sarathchandra who was driving the three wheel vehicle and that the two persons who snatched her jewelries were known to him.

 

The police began questioning the victim based on Ms. Nikalanda’s complaint. But every time he denied any involvement, three policemen had him repeatedly beaten for 20 minutes. The complainant was present when the police were torturing him.  They had his face pounded using a pole and their hands. The victim was bleeding from his mouth due to beatings but the police either ignored or deliberately paid no attention to it. They also did not help him treat his wounds.

 

When the police subsequently conducted a parade of supposed suspects, Ms. Nikalanda identified the victim as one of those responsible in the theft of her jewelry. The police subsequently filed charges against him. The parade though was done following the victim being taken into police custody and tortured in front of the complainant. For Ms. Nikalanda to identify the victim during the parade was expected as she was in fact present and had witnessed the police torturing the victim.

 

The following day, July 5, he was produced before the Magistrate Gampaha and was subsequently remanded until July 10. He was only released when his lawyers informed the Magistrate he was suffering from injuries and required medical attention at the Prison Hospital.

 

On July 14, the victim filed his complaint with the police and the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) regarding the torture perpetrated on him. His affidavits were likewise sent to the IGP, Chief Justice (CJ) and Attorney General (AG). After receiving those complaints, a police inquiry was initiated which resulted in an identification parade of police officers attached to the Ganemulla Police on August 8. The victim identified two of them who tortured him.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the concerned authorities for them to take appropriate action in this case. The false charges against the victim must be withdrawn unconditionally. He must also be afforded with compensation and given adequate rehabilitation for the injury and psychological trauma he had suffered due to torture. They must also ensure that the policemen involved in torturing him are effectively prosecuted.

 

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