Sri Lanka
Urgent Interventions

Sri Lanka: torture victim Lalith Rajapakse is the subject of harassment and threats

Case LKA 130502.4
Follow-up of Case LKA 130502
Harassment / Death threats / Torture / Impunity

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), a member of the OMCT network, that torture victim Lalith Rajapakse is the subject of harassment and threats in relation with his case before the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka.

According to the information received, Lalith Rajapakse, who was tortured by the police officers attached to the Kandana Police Station, has made complaints about his case, and the case against the perpetrators is currently pending. Moreover, the case Lalith Rajapakse filed against the police for violation of fundamental rights is pending before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and the date of hearing is scheduled for October 23rd, 2003. There are fears for Lalith Rajapakse’s personal integrity in the run-up to these hearings, as he has reportedly received threats that could amount to death threats.

On the evening of 14 October 2003, four persons visited Lalith Rajapakse's house and asked for Lalith, who was not at home at the time. When Lalith Rajapakse's family inquired about their identities, the four persons answered that they had been sent by a Sub-Inspector from the Kandana Police Station and that Lalith should go with them to meet the Sub-Inspector (who was not named) at the police station. Lalith's family immediately made a complaint regarding this matter to the National Human Rights Commission Hot Line. When inquiries were made with the Kandana Police, they reported that they had not sent anyone to bring Lalith to the police station. His family fears for Lalith’s life, because there are many instances in Sri Lanka in which criminals have been hired as assassins by interested parties.

After the investigation of Lalith's case, the Prosecution of Torture Perpetrators Unit filed a criminal action under the Torture Act (Act No. 22 of 1994) against Sub-Inspector Peiris and other officers before the Negambo Magistrates Court and the case is currently pending. According to the law, if the accused are found guilty, the mandatory sentence prescribed by Act No.22 of 1994 is seven years. Moreover, the case Lalith Rajapakse filed against the police for violation of fundamental rights is pending before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and the date of hearing is scheduled for October 23rd, 2003. On September 29th, 2003, Lalith Rajapakse was acquitted of the two fabricated charges that the police officers filed against him at the Magistrate's Court of Wattala, on the basis that there was no evidence at all to connect him to the charges.

Meanwhile, S.I. Peiris who is an accused in this case, has tried to contact several persons from human rights groups who have helped Lalith with his case, in order to pressurize him into not proceeding with the cases. Lalith and his family have made several earlier complaints of threats to him as well as to his grandfather. At the initial stages, after making the complaint against the police, there was an attempt to poison his grandfather through an intermediary, which was brought to the notice of the police authorities through the National Human Rights Commission. Also, the officer in charge of the police station, who is the first respondent in the fundamental rights case, continues to hold his post as the Officer-in-Charge of the Kandana Police Station.

OMCT continues to be gravely concerned for Mr. Lalith Rajapaske’s personal integrity, given the visit by unknown persons to his home and the potential threat to his life that this represents. OMCT is also gravely concerned by the fact that the alleged perpetrators of human rights violations against him continue to be active within the police. OMCT therefore calls upon the Sri Lankan authorities to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity at all times and to ensure that the cases filed before the High Court of Negombo and the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka are dealt with expeditiously, in order to bring those responsible of these violations to justice and to award the victim adequate reparation, respectively. OMCT further calls upon the authorities to guarantee Mr. Lalith Rajapaske immediate access to appropriate medical assistance.

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, 19-year old Lalith Rajapakse was assaulted and arbitrarily arrested on April 18th, 2002 by police officer Wijeratne (badge no. 31125) and two other officers and subjected to torture while in detention at the Kabdana police station on April 19th, 2002, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, having been accused of theft. Mr. Rajapakse was taken to Colombo Central Hospital, where he remained unconscious until May 7th, 2002, and subsequently suffered from traumatic encephalitis. The Magistrate declared that a procedural violation had taken place when Mr. Rajapakse was detained without first producing him before the acting Magistrate. Mr. Basil Fernando, who is acting as Mr. Rajapakse’s legal counsel, reportedly told the court on May 16th, 2002, that the two major police crimes perpetrated against Mr. Lalith Rajapakse are: attempted murder and violation of Act. No.40 of 1994 from the Elimination of Torture Act. The Magistrate reportedly ordered that Mr. Lalith Rajapakse be released on personal bail and ordered the Commissioner of Prisons to produce him in court on May 17th, 2002.

According to the information received, Lalith Rajapakse, was acquitted of the fabricated charges filed against him at the Magistrate's Court of Wattala, Sri Lanka on September 29th, 2003. The victim had been charged with two acts of robbery. In both cases the defence maintained that the police fabricated charges after they had tortured Lalith Rajapakse and took him to the hospital in an unconscious condition on 20 April 2002. Later the police filed 2 cases of robbery charges against Lalith Rajapakse before the magistrate. Reports indicate that the police have been unable to apprehend the real culprits for these crimes. At the Magistrate's Court of Wattala, the complainants in both cases stated that they have made no complaint against the victim. At this stage the attorney for Lalith Rajapakse, W.R. Sanjeewa, moved that there was no basis to proceed with the case and requested the Magistrate to acquit the charges against the victim. The Magistrate made orders to acquit Lalith Rajapaske in both cases.

Separately, Mr. Bopearachchige Lal Appuhamy has been threatened by the Sri Lankan police with death if he refuses to participate in assisting with the assassination of Mr. Elaris, who, as the grandfather of torture victim Mr. Lalith Rajapakse, is continuing to press charges against the alleged perpetrators of this torture, who are members of the Kandana Police forces in Sri Lanka.

Action requested:

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

i. intervene with the proper authorities to ensure that adequate medical assistance is provided as a matter of urgency to all persons who require it;
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 and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
iii. guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to the victims of these abuses;
iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.


· Her Excellency President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President's House, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 12 2 333 703, E-mail:
· Prime Minister, Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Cambridge Place, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 12 575 454/682 905, E-mail:,
· Attorney General, Hon. K.C. Kamalasabesan, Attorney General's Department, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 12 436 421, E-mail: or
· Minister of Justice, Hon. W.J.M. Lokubandara, Ministry of Justice, Law Reform and National Integration, Superior Courts Complex, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka, Fax: + 94 12 424 447
· Minister of Interior, Honourable John Amaratunga, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 12 387 526/698 282
· Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya PC, Chairman National Police Commission, 69-1 Ward Place, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 1 2 691 926, Fax HOME: +941 2 674148
· National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 1 2 694 924, E-mail:
· Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, Rue de Moillebeau 56 (5ème) - CP 436, CH-1211, Genève 19, Suisse, E-mail:, Fax: +4122 734 90 84

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

Geneva, October 16th, 2003

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