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Sri Lanka
05.12.02
Urgent Interventions

Sri Lanka: further cases of torture and death in detention at Kirindiwela police station

Case LKA 261102.1
Follow-up of Case LKA 261102
Incommunicado detention / Torture / Death in detention / Impunity

Geneva, December 5th, 2002

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information regarding the following situation in Sri Lanka.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC-HK), a member of the OMCT network, of a further case of torture and another case of torture and subsequent death in detention at Kirindiwela police station in Sri Lanka.

According to the information received, a 25-year-old Mr. Nalinda Senaratne was tortured and Mr. Ranjuth Karunaratne reportedly tortured to death by the police at the Kirindiwela police station - the same police station where a 70-year-old man, P. A. Piyadasa, was recently allegedly tortured to death (see OMCT urgent appeal LKA 261102 - please note that his correct age is 70, not 78).

According to reports, Mr. Nalinda Senaratne from Wahalmaluwa of Kirndiwela was assaulted and taken into police custody by the police attached to the Kirndiwela police station, on November 16th, 2002. He was reportedly arrested on suspicion of stealing chickens and later admitted to the Ragama Hospital where he underwent an operation to assess internal injuries found in his stomach. The doctor then referred his case to the judicial medical officer (JMO) of the hospital following which he was sent to the prison hospital, where he is likely still being detained according to reports, although no further information about his condition has been received.

In addition to these cases of torture allegedly committed at the Kirindiwela police station, there are reports that the police officers of the same station have also been accused of torturing a person to death last month. The mother of the victim claims that her son, Mr. Ranjuth Karunaratne, was tortured to death, reportedly by the same police officers as the afore-mentioned cases. No further information is as yet available concerning this case.

Due to the accusations of torture against the Kirndiwela police surrounding the death Mr. P. A. Piyadasa, two special officers were appointed to conduct an investigation regarding the incident, and several officers have been transferred pending the completion of the investigation. However, these measures do not seem to have deterred further abuses as several more cases of torture and deaths in detention have been recorded at the Kirindiwela police station since that time.

This case must be seen in light of other similar cases that OMCT has reported concerning deaths in detention in Sri Lankan police stations, in which persons arrested in relation with petty crimes or small-time robberies – often without valid reasons or as a resulted of erroneous tip-offs - are tortured, sometimes to death, by member of the police. Local human rights groups fear that this reflects a growing and widespread pattern of police abuse in Sri Lanka, in which the authorities are not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nalinda Senaratne, and calls upon the authorities to immediately locate his whereabouts, grant him appropriate medical assistance and release him in the absence of valid legal charges. Furthermore, OMCT wishes to express its deep concern about the alleged use of torture and deaths that have reportedly occurred at the hands of the Kirindiwela police. While OMCT welcomes the launching of an investigation into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Mr. P. A. Piyadasa, in light of these new allegations, it fears that the perpetrators of these alleged acts will not be brought to justice and that further violations will occur. OMCT calls on the authorities to ensure that investigations into all these allegations are conducted in an effective and impartial way and that sanctions are imposed as provided by the law on all persons found guilty of human rights violations in relation with these cases.

Brief reminder of the situation

P. A. Piyadasa of Papiliwela in Veralugampola was reportedly arrested in connection with illicit liquor sales by a group of policemen from the Kirindiwela police station at midnight on November 20th, 2002, at which time relatives claim he was assaulted. In the early morning of November 21st, his body was reportedly handed over to the Watupitiwela Base Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Following a complaint made to the area police Superintendent and petitions from the public, which included claims that there were eyewitnesses to the alleged assault, a special police investigation is being conducting by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Pathmasiri Liyanage and Subinspector Priyahtha Jayakody. The Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Kirindiwela police station, Ranjith Mahimkanda, and six other policemen attached to the station have been transferred pending the completion of the investigations.

Action requested:

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

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nalinda Senaratne;
ii. immediately locate his whereabouts and provide him with adequate medical assistance as a matter of urgency;
iii. guarantee adequate reparation to Mr. Nalinda Senaratne and the families of Mr. Ranjuth Karunaratne and Mr. Mr. P. A. Piyadasa;
iv. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these arrests in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.

Addresses :

· Her Excellency President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President's House, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka. Fax: + 94 1 333703, E-mail: for_min@sri.lanka.net
· Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, Cambridge Place, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka. Fax: + 94 1575 454. E-mail: secpm@sltnet.lk
· Hon. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan, Attorney General, Attorney General's Department, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka. Fax: + 94 1 436-421, E-mail: attorney@sri.lanka.net or counsel@sri.lanka.net
· Honourable Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, 37, Kirula Place, Colombo 5. Sri Lanka. Fax: + 94 1 437680
· Honourable Minister of Interior John Amaratunga, Colombo, Fax: + 94 1387 526, + 94 1698 282

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

Geneva, December 5th, 2002

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