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Sri Lanka
04.12.02
Urgent Interventions

Sri Lanka: torture of Mr. Mohamed Najeed Rukshan by the police in Gokarella

Case LKA 041202
Torture / Impunity

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-HK), a member of the OMCT network, that a man has been tortured by the police in Gokarella to the extent that he has been unable to walk, in Sri Lanka.

According to the information received, Mr. Mohamed Najeed Rukshan (28), a development officer of the Hevanegedera Samurdi Society and resident of the village of Dethilianga, was beaten by an officer from the Gokarella police section in the early morning of November 14th, 2002.

According to Dr. M. B. Almeda, the medical specialist who examined Mr. Rukshan at the Emergency Section of the Kurunegala Base Hospital, he had broken bones and cartilage as a result of severe beatings that he had received on the surface of the foot. The victim has lodged complaints about the abuse he suffered with human rights organisations and with the office of the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in Kurunegala.

According to the reports, the beatings are linked with a call for tender for a beef stall in the village of Dethilianga, in which an offer of 180,000 LKR (1,866 USD) was favoured over Mr. Rukshan’s offer of 210,000 LKR. Mr. Rukshan claims that he was put under pressure by his competitor, but refused to withdraw his tender.

Subsequently, the stall was set on fire and a complaint was made at the police station against Mr. Rushan. The latter, who was fearful of reprisals, went to the police station accompanied by a lawyer on November 13th, 2002, and allowed himself to be taken into custody. As of 3 am the following day, he was reportedly severly beaten by the police officials, resulting in him no longer being able to walk. On November 18th, he was brought before the Kurunegala Magistrate and on the orders of the Court he was admitted to the Kurunegala hospital.

This incident takes place in a climate in which a there are large number of cases of torture and brutal treatment of detainees by the Sri Lankan Police being reported, with the perpetrators of these acts habitually benefiting from total impunity. This is despite Sri Lanka's obligations under international treaties and under its own Constitution and laws (notably Act No. 22 of 1994), which guarantee that perpetrators of torture are brought to justice and that all individuals receive a fair trial.

The International Secretariat of the OMCT is gravely concerned by these new reports of the use of torture by the Security Services in Sri Lanka and is particularly concerned that Mr. Mohamed Najeed Rukshan will not receive adequate medical assistance and reparation for the injuries that he sustained as a result of the torture to which the authorities subjected him. OMCT calls on the authorities to ensure an effective and impartial investigation into these allegations and that sanctions be imposed as provided by the law on all persons found guilty of human rights violations in relation with this case.

Action requested

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

i. guarantee adequate reparation to Mr. Mohamed Najeed Rukshan;
ii. 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;
iii. 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 4, 2002

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