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Sri Lanka
28.12.04
Urgent Interventions

Sri Lanka - Arbitrary arrest and killing of Mr. Ranson Peiris by police officers

Case LKA 281204
Arbitrary arrest/Death due to torture


The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Sri Lanka.


Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a member of the OMCT network, of the arbitrary arrest and killing of Mr. Ranson Peiris by police officers on 6 December 2004 in the city of Moratuwa.

According to the information received, on 5 December 2004 around 2:00 p.m., a 59-year-old carpenter named Ranson Peiris, married with 7 children and residing at No. 30, Gnanaloka Mawatha, Egodauyana, Moratuwa, was assaulted by two police officers as he was having a drink at Mrs. Malani’s house, and forcibly taken to the Moratuwa Police Station. The alleged perpetrators, both from the Moratuwa Police Station, are Sergeant Silva (also a Court sergeant at the Moratuwa Magistrate Court) and Sergeant Jayantha Perera.

It is reported that the Moratuwa Police gave a false statement to the Deputy Mayor of the Moratuwa Municipal Council, Mr. Dhammika Chandranath Fernando, who was inquiring about the arrest after notifying the victim’s family of it, denying that Mr. Peiris had been brought into their custody. However, some time later when Mr Peiris's relatives went to the Moratuwa Police Station, they saw the victim lying in the police cell, looking severely injured. After first refusing to provide Mr. Peiris with medical treatment upon his relatives’ request, the Moratuwa Police took him to the Lunawa Government Hospital around 10:00 p.m., without informing his family and falsely stating that he had been found on the roadside. As Mr. Peiris was in a critical condition, he was transferred to the Kalubovila General Hospital and later to National Hospital in Colombo. He nonetheless succumbed to his injuries at around 11:30 a.m. on the following day (6 December).

The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) at the National Hospital in Colombo declared that Mr. Peiris had been assaulted by blunt weapons. The Moratuwa Magistrate Court began an inquest into Mr. Peiris's death (Case No. 6741NS/2004), and Mrs. Malani, who witnessed the assault, gave her statement to the Mt. Lavinia Police and the Moratuwa Magistrate Court. However, none of the Mt. Lavinia Police was present while the magisterial inquest was being held. Moreover, according to the latest information, the two accused police sergeants have not yet been arrested. More seriously, it is alleged that the Moratuwa Police has been pressuring Mrs. Malani not to give a statement against the two sergeants.

The villagers communicated the incident to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka on 8 December; the victim's son also lodged a complained to the HRC on 13 December. However, all plaintiffs were informed by a HRC officer that any investigation was conditional on the provision of a post-mortem report, a document very difficult for ordinary citizens to obtain in Sri Lanka.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned by this case of torture, especially as it does not constitute an isolated phenomenon. In fact, during the last couple of years, OMCT (see OMCT: Case LKA 130104, Case LKA 270104, Case LKA 190204, Case LKA 060704, Case LKA 270704 Case LKA 190404 Case LKA 260704) has raised its voice on the common practice of torture against ordinary citizens at police stations in Sri Lanka, urging the government to take genuine action to put an end such brutality. Yet the victims have repeatedly encountered inaction by the authorities, an attitude which helps to ensure the impunity of torture perpetrators, and in fact encourages them to commit such crimes.
It is urgent that the Sri Lankan government abide by the international legal obligations it has subscribed to, namely by taking genuine steps to implement the Convention Against Torture (CAT), which it has ratified and therefore accepted as domestic law.


Action requested
Please write to the authorities in Sri Lanka urging them to:

i. Immediately order a thorough and impartial investigation into this case of torture, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

ii. Provide adequate protection to the victim’s family and witness, and fulfil their international obligations by introducing effective legislative measures for witness protection;

iii. Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.


Addresses
  • Mr. Mahindra Rajapakse, Prime Minister Temple Trees, Galle Road , Colombo03, SRI LANKA Tel: +94 11 2 543938-42 / 437676, Fax: +94 11 2 384916, E-mail: pm_sec@slt.lk

  • Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan, Attorney General, Attorney General's Department, Colombo 12, SRI LANKA Fax: +94 11 2 436 421, Email: attorney@sri.lanka.net or counsel@sri.lanka.net

  • Mr. Chandra Fernando, Inspector General of Police (IGP), New Secretariat, Colombo 1, SRI LANKA, Fax: +94 11 2 440440/327877

  • Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya PC, Chairperson, National Police Commission, 69-1 Ward Place, Colombo 7, SRI LANKA, Fax: +94 11 2 669 528, Fax home: +94 11 2 674148, E-mail: polcom@sltnet.lk

  • Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8, SRI LANKA, Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806, Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470, E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

  • Prof. Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
    Attn: Mr. Safir Syed, C/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10, SWITZERLAND
    Tel: +41 22 917 9230, Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (general), E-mail: ssyed@ohchr.org

Please also write to the embassies of Sri Lanka in your respective country.

Geneva, 28 December 2004.

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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