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PapersSri Lanka- Need for a rapture with the past
Sri Lanka- Need for a rapture with the past
Pol Pot is reported to have said once after the failure of his regime (1975-79) which killed one seventh of the population after the Khmer Rouge took power, that they were like children and did not know how to handle power. To some degree or the other, the leaders of the Asian countries during the last fifty years or so, can say the same thing. Though the degree of destruction may be different in various countries, the common experience in all the Asian countries during this time is one of destruction. The destruction has many facets, such loss of lives, like in Indonesia in 1965, India over and over again, China also on many occasions and even smaller countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal, in recent decades. What is even more important is the societal destruction.
I will examine this theme more specifically in relation to Sri Lanka, seeking also a direction by which the people can escape from such destruction and resolve some of the problems their leaders have complicated.
It is often said, that Sri Lanka, could have been a success story, instead of a chaotic country that it is now. This view is based on the consideration of the natural resources of Sri Lanka, its improved human resources and other favorable factors, such as some infrastructure like roads and electricity which had been introduced to a limited degree in the past. This approach is likely to lead to a view on the present situation as some sort of an accident. Some may try to locate what that accident is, and may even attribute it to factors as the ethnic issue, instability caused by insurgencies in the South and the North or bad economic policies of a particular government. Naturally there is also a reference to the impact of colonialism, and the adverse impact of Western powers.
What is totally missing in this discussion is the impact of the type of relationship that exists between the people and the State as the primary factor that determines the quality of society, its stability and its morale.
The extent of the interaction between the people and the State, permeates all aspects of life. Where the interaction is active and positive, it is possible to cope up with crisis and catastrophies that no nation can avoid. Where the interaction is one of alienation, passivity and negativity this very conditions become the reason for crisis and catastrophes. Beside, under such conditions every new challenge weakens the society instead of strengthening it.
Through out the entirety of the Sri Lankan history, it is difficult to find a time when the relationship between the people and State could have been said to be positive. This absence of a positive relationship is particularly evident during the medieval times followed by the colonial times.
Proximity to India brought to Sri Lanka the caste as the main structure of the social organization. Whether early Buddhism which was brought to Sri Lanka in 500 B.C. came to a country which had already assimilated caste or whether the caste exerted a fundamental influence only later, is a matter of debate. However, unlike early Buddhism in India, which was a social revolt against the existing predominant religion Brahminism, Sri Lankan Buddhism was first accepted by the King and was spread as a State sponsored religion. Thus, it did not have a disturbing effect on the status quo of the time. Therefore, the issue of equality of all persons is unknown in the ancient history of Sri Lanka.
Even the conservative historians agree that by the end of the Anuradhapura period ,caste was well rooted in Sri Lanka. In the next period known as the Polonnaruwa period, 993 to 1250 AD caste became entrenched as the main form of social stratification among the Sinhalese. Caste was also the main form of social stratification among the Tamils. The higher caste among the Sinhalese was Govigama (farmer, which really meant a landlord) and among the Tamils, was Vellala the traders.
It is often argued by the members of the upper castes, that caste in Sri Lanka is milder than in India. This is a very superficial view of caste and often adduced to defend against Western criticism or in defense of Sinhala Buddhism implying that Buddhism humanized the caste discrimination. However a closer examination of caste would show, that there is no basic difference between India and Sri Lanka on caste issue and that caste cannot be humanized.
In India the basic separation is between the Touchables and those who are not touchable. Touchables come from the three Castes: Brahmins, Khhastriyas and Vaisya and the non-touchable at the beginning was Sudras. Later the untouchbles or the total outcastes developed. The main difference of Touchable and non Touchables (Sudras and untouchables), was that the touchables were the master castes and the non touchables were the servant castes. The Sri Lankan distinction between Kuleena, meaning the higher castes, and Kulaheena meaning the low castes. The difference once again is on the basis of the master caste and the servant caste. Like in India, there was an unchangable law, which is that one is born to a caste and that no one can change it. From the point of view of the impact on individuals and society, there is no basis to make a distinction between the situation of India and Sri Lanka on this.
In both countries all power belonged to the master castes and the servant castes had no power at all. Thus, the ordinary folk in the country had a history of powerlessness. The master castes know the arrogance of power and others only know the humiliation of powerlessness. To democratize the relationship between these two social groups is almost impossible. This is so in India and applies equally to Sri Lanka.
To miss this fundamental distinction between those who had power and those who were completely denied of it, is to miss the heart of the matter regarding the failure of last 50 years and the main challenges faced for the decades to come.
Associate with power is the solidarity of the Touchables or Kuleenas. This sodality was an absolute one. Complete defense of each other was the underlying factor. Thus, all laws were to protect them. There was no question of exposing the corruption of one touchable by the other. Thus, another obstacle is placed before democracy, which is the control of wealth by certain norms and outlawing some forms of gaining wealth. Both India and Sri Lanka have failed to develop any significant measure of controlling corruption. The absence of such a system is a major obstacle to modernization and democratization. Roots of this failure go to the caste based social structure.
The solidarity of the Touchables goes also to the issue of the use of violence. All legitimate users of violence were the touchables. There was no limit to their use of violence. Torture, rape and murder was no torture, or murder so long as a touchable commits any of these acts to a person outsider their status. Any of those acts if done by Non Touchables (Kulaheenas), warranted unlimited retaliation. Wiping out entire families, or even villages were allowed and such acts were not followed by any legal consequences. Even today this pattern is repeated in Sri Lankan police stations. Torture is routine in these police stations and thousands of reports show how gruesome such torture is. While it is next to impossible to get a complaint against the powerful investigated, it is a simple matter to get even a case totally fabricated against the powerless. Times of tension show how the old patterns of repression is repeated. Both in the South and North, large numbers of people, mostly the young have been arrested and killed at every event of tension during the last fifty years, particularly the last thirty five years. What all these people who become victims of such violence have in common is that they come from poor families. Number of persons from powerful families who faced such treatment at the hand of law enforcement agencies may not even be ten. The way the police stations function in Sri Lanka pose a major threat to the development of democracy in the country..
Touchable (Kullena)cunning is the ruling, thinking and acting pattern in Sri Lanka as it is India. Cunning is treated as the ideal to aspire. This has spread into all areas of life politics, diplomacy, law, bureaucracy and religion. The cumulative effect of practice of cunning in the mind of South Asians is that they are unable to take any thing seriously. The light hearted way the catastrophies to the whole society or individuals are ignored may be surprising to any one who is not familiar with what is known as South Asian mindset. As there are no fundamental principles of any kind to adhered to except loyalty to ones caste, nothing is impermissible, be it torture, extra-judicial killings, mass murder, genocide as it has happened many times and the latest being the Gujarat carnage in early 2002. None of these even leave any lasting impressions. Everything is just rapidly passing episodes that lacks any significance. This helps those who are cunning to use them for what ever purpose they like. If you succeed in life, that is all that matters, nothing else matters. History does not exist, or even if exists, it does not matter. So long as this touchable ( Kullena)mind dominates, there is hardly any prospect for democracy or improvement of human lives of the vast majority. A breakthrough can come only through the improvement capacity of the victims' way of thinking and acting. This will come only if the victims themselves begin to break away from this deliberately. The initiative thus must come from those who have been marginalized throughout
The brulatity with which an Indian Touachable police men treat others is well portrayed in Arrundahi Roy’s book, God Of Small things. The brutality of Sri Lankan police man is no different. In both cases the method of work of these officers is cunningness and not the law or principles of Justice.
The Colonial Period
During the colonial period, this "Kuleenas" got thoroughly integrated to the colonial system. Due to the new avenues created by colonialism, such as liqueur sales and rents. Some new comers who were "kulaheenas" did rise up, but they too acquired the "kuleena's" mind-set and attitudes. Thus, the expansion of the "kuleena" did not accompany a democratization process. The gap between the people who were powerless and the upper caste who had shared power with the colonial rulers increased. The acquiring of the language of the colonizers helped kuleenas to gain greater power over the powerless. Thus English language itself became a very powerful instrument of social control. Though British did want the English education to be opened to all even in 1832, the Kuleenas prevented it as it would strengthen the hands of the kulaheena, thus undermining the position of the Kuleenas.
When British left finally in 1948, they left power in the hands of the Kuleenas. British attempts to introduce voting were not accompanied by any plan to give a greater participatory capacity to the ordinary folk. Instead, the Kuleenas, who now called themselves the elite, could manipulate the sort of democracy that was introduced.
Though, a leftist movements sometimes calling themselves Marxists arose, they did not dare to break the boundaries between the powerful and powerless. With the Marxist rhetoric of workers revolution, they managed to avoid the pressing need for democratic reforms. Their interest in democratic institutions were limited to finding ways for their leaders to get some seats in the parliament.
However, during the last 50 years, there had been some change in the relationship between the Kuleenas and the Kulaheenas. Many of the young among the powerful group, have migrated to the Western countries and are unlikely to come back. The powerless, have acquired greater education and greater sophistication. This situation has led to conflicts: persons representing the elite groups attempted a coup in 1962,which was crushed. Studies into the coup show that the motivating factors for the coup leaders were the apprehension of the loss of their privileged places. By seventies, when more and more people from among the historically powerless were entering into educated groups on large numbers, some sections of them were manipulated into violent military politics and were mercilessly crushed in large numbers. In fact, there had not been a proper statistics even up to date. In the 1988-92 period over 30,00 people were killed after arrest in the South. During the last 20 years large number of such killings have also taken place in the North and the East.
What the Sri Lankan society is driving towards is not for continuity with its caste based past but for a rapture with its past. Beginning of democracy has always called for a rupture, whether it be in France, England or the United States. What such a rupture implies is a new type of relationship between the State and the people. It means that there will not be two groups defined by birth as powerful and powerless. The basis of social relationships will be one of equality.
The initiative to effect this change, rests mainly with the people, the ones who have traditionally been powerless. They now have the capacity for effective participation. Most important part of that capacity is the will to participate. This has increased enormously. The other capacities such as skills in articulation, self-confidence and self- assertiveness have also increased.
Time has now come for folk movements, movements similar to what came to being in 18th and 19th centuries in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries to be formed. Dalit movement in India with such leaders as Ambedkar has also developed a self-confidence building movement among the most powerless. Such movements are a dire need now in Sri Lanka.
Earlier movements were led by the elite, either from the rightwing or the left. What is need is a folk movement in which people themselves can improve their collective consciousness. This I can assure you is coming.
A major obstacles to the self expression and participation of people in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lanka Police. It is very wild institution that routinely engages in most brutal types of torture. They torment and intimidate the ordinary folk, particularly in rural and remote areas. Struggle for elimination of torture and civilizing the police force is can not de-linked from promotion of peoples participation.( attached to this paper is an annexture indication three cases of torture which demonstrates what takes place normally and routinely in Sri Lanka.)
Cease Fire and Peace Process
The contradictions mentioned above have created a violent conflict between Sri Lankan Government and the armed militants of the minority, the Tamils. The initiator of violence was the Sri Lankan State. They were the same as the ones mentioned above. The use of violence on the minority was brutal and extensive. The retaliation was also brutal, inhuman and merciless. The conflict lasted for over 20 years. This was one of the bloodiest conflicts that world has witnessed in recent decades, marked by complete lack of respect for human lives.
The conflict became a traumatic experience to everyone in the country. The children grew up hearing only about death and destruction. This painful experience has left lasting impression on the people. The determination to end it and find a lasting peace on the basis of different type of relationship with the State is today very much a part of peoples' desires. In coming to a cease-fire agreement both the Sri Lankan Government and LTTE have shown their understanding of the deep currents of desires of the people. It is the wish of the peoples that the cease-fire holds.
Next is the lasting peace. The particular agreement to guarantee the rights of the minority is one aspect of this. As far as the ordinary people are concerned, both from the Sinhala and the Tamil communities, the willingness to enter into a fundamentally a new arrangement for solving problems exist. However, without addressing some basic issues of democratization, lasting peace will not be possible.
Sri Lanka needs to pass through a period of reforms in which ordinary people's participation must be ensured. This requires a fundamental reform of the country’s justice system: the Police, the prosecutions and the judiciary. Present state of justice is commonly described as hellish. What will give meaning to peace are the justice reforms.
Thus democratization in Sri Lanka is improvement of ordinary peoples participation through peace and justice reforms.
It is in this context that the role of the religion should be located. At least for the last 10 centuries, the religions in Asia have played a very negative role as far as the people's development is concerned. Having tied its fate with the State, religions became part of the psychological apparatus of repression. When Christianity arrived, it absorbed the vices of the dominant religions existing in the region. Thus in India Christian priesthood acquired all the attributes of Brahminism. Only those persons who belonged to the touchable castes could become local priests and Bishops.
What is most important is the negative impact the religion has on people. It did not improve their self-confidence, self-reliance and self-assertion. Instead, it encouraged subordination and fear.
As country moves towards a people with greater sophistication seeking to introduce changes in the relationship they have with the State, religions that do not respect this urge of the people will be ignored. Religion is faced with the challenge for dynamic change—which is for internal reform. Change from within is essential if you wish to call others to lift up their hearts. That is the historic message to all religions in Asia.
Finally, I may sum up most important elements on which future of the country will depend
- Ending the tradition of torture engaged in by the Police and other state agent and establishment of civilized policing system
- Improvement of self esteem, self confidence and assertiveness among ordinary folk.
Annexture; Three cases of Torture;
Torture case of Herat Pathirannehelage Nandani Sriyalatha Herat in Sri Lanka
Torture resulting in loss of the use of both hands
SRI LANKA: Gross human rights violence aganist woman - Arbitrary arrest, sexual abuses and torture by police
Herat Pathirannehelage Nandani Sriyalatha Herat is a 39-years-old Sri Lankan woman who is not married and is a virgin. She was arrested by several police officers from Wariapola in civilian clothes on March 8, 2002. She was arrested at her home in the presence of her family and was kept for two days in the Wariapola police station during which she was severely tortured.
The forms of torture included stripping her naked and inserting a pipe-like object in her vagina, which made her bleed and caused immense pain. Once produced in court, she complained to the magistrate who ordered an inquiry. This inquiry, however, has not taken place yet.
We reproduce below a translation of her own hand-written statement.
The following is a translation from a hand-written statement by Ms. Herat Pathirannehelage Nandani Sriyalatha Herat written in her mother tongue, Sinhala.
I was brought to the Wariapola Police Station on the 8th of March 2002 around 6:15 p.m. They came to our home in a white coloured vehicle. There were four people dressed in civilian clothes. Because I was bathing at the time, they asked my father if Nandani was at home. Hearing that I peeped from the wall near the well. Because I saw someone known to me I wrapped a towel above by bathing clothe and went there. One of them was examining my younger sister¡¯s identity card. His name is Warnakulasuriya. He said they needed to record a statement by me. When I asked about what, they did not tell me. Warnakulasuriya, the Officer in Charge of Crimes and a person I do not know came inside our house. They did not give me room to put on my clothes. When I asked Rathnatileke who was standing at the door to move away as I wanted to dress he did not do so.
My mother came to the vehicle to accompany me. But they did not allow her to get into the vehicle. When I was getting into the vehicle I saw a person with his head covered in a white sheet. I did not know who he was. They brought me and made me sit on a bench. At that time there was no woman present. 10-15 minutes later an elderly woman arrived. Between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m. Ananda arrived. He was dressed in a ¡®gurupata¡¯ (?) trousers and a white tee shirt. He said today is good for the bite. I asked that I be taken home. I was not given any food or drink that evening. I asked several times why I was brought but I was not told the reason. Around 8:30 p.m. Ananda, Rathnatileke and Warnakulasuriya arrived. I heard the reserve policeman calling out to some individuals and to a woman. Those three were very drunk. Warnasuriya first beat me with a pole. I felt my left arm becoming lifeless. I felt faintish. Ananda removed my clothes. I asked him not to remove my clothes. I screamed. After my clothes were removed. Someone struck me a blow from behind. I could not recognise who it was. Ananda put something like a tube into my vagina. Warnakulasuriya kept my mouth shut with his hand. Rathnathileke stood by the front door and watched. At that time the back door was closed. [He said] ¡°This is only a foretaste. It is tomorrow that the job will be done¡±.
Blood was pouring from my vagina and I felt a sharp pain in my underbelly. The blood was dripping on to the cement floor. Ananda called a woman and said cut a piece from my towel and bring it. The woman brought the towel. Ananda tore it in half and gave me one piece. I wore it. With the other piece he wiped the blood on the floor. After that he asked Rathnatieleke something. I did not hear what he said. I heard Rathnatileke say ¡°Put it in cupboard 4 of the Crimes Division. Tomorrow let us throw it far away¡±. A little while later because I felt sick I slept there itself. I vomited around 5.30 am. The officer in charge asked a woman to wash the vomit, ¡°Can¡¯t say if the ASP might come round¡± he said. I asked the OIC for medicine and to send me to hospital. He paid no attention to that but gave me a blow. He scolded me in raw filth. After a short while I went to the OIC¡¯s room and asked again why I was brought there. Then Rathnaileke said, ¡°You have no house to go now they have given it the works also¡±. I could not think about anything at that time. Around 10:30 that morning the OIC beat me again with a large pole. At that time I was terribly sick. The OIC Crimes asked him not to beat me. After that I was not beaten. By that time I was in a semi-conscious state.
The following night the woman who was locked up with me gave me a tea and two short eats, from what had been brought for her. There were some others also locked up. I cannot remember who they were. I heard them talking I have no memory of what was said. The next morning Warnakulasuriya took me to the Crimes Section opened a big book and told me, ¡°Sign your statement¡±. At that time no statement from me had been recorded. Therefore I hesitated to sign it. But because WPC 2212 kicked me hard from behind and because I could not endure any more pain and because I was terribly hungry, I thought whatever might happen it does not matter and signed the statement.
Around 12:30 that day I was forcibly taken again in a white coloured vehicle. I refused to get in and did not get in. I was forced into the vehicle. Inside the van was the driver of the vehicle and Warnakulasuriya dressed in civilian clothes. Rathnatileke was dressed in uniform. There was another constable in civils. The vehicle went along the Nikaveratiya Road. It stopped near a large Mara tree and Rathnatileke and Warnakulasuriya went there. There were officers in civilian clothes standing by he door of the vehicle. After that I was taken to the Wariapola courts. While I was in the van Warnakulasuriya went inside the courthouse. He came back after 5 to 10 minutes. I remember that he had a paper in his hand. After that I was taken to the Wariapola hospital. I told a doctor about my sick condition. Though he asked me to sit down there was nothing there to sit on. Rathnatileke and Wranakulasuriya were there all the time. On the way to Kurunegala the vehicle near several shops.
I was handed over to the Kurunegala prison. Till I came to the prison I had had nothing to eat. They gave me food brought from Kurunegala. On the 10th of March I was taken to hospital. [Then after making a complaint to Warden of prison] On March 13-14-15, I was taken to hospital for visit. On the 17th around 3 p.m. I was examined in the orthopedic section of the hospital. I am still being taken to hospital. On the day I was brought to court I made a public statement to the lady magistrate.
During the time I was in the police station none of my home people were allowed to visit me. Only after I was brought here did I come to know what the charge against me is.
End of Statement
Herat Pathirannehelage Nandani Sriyalatha Herat made a similar statement to the magistrate of the Wariapola magistrate¡¯s court, who issued the following order:
While the police have the right to arrest an accused and investigate and take a statement from him about the relevant happenings, the police have no power to inhumanely assault anyone. I order Deputy Inspector General Wayaba to investigate this matter and submit a complete report to this court. I order the registrar of this court to send a copy of this order to the deputy inspector general of police.
Call the case soon on 2002-04-05.
- Torture resulting in loss of the use of both hands (likely for the rest of his life).
Name of victim: Mr. Gresha De Silva (32)
Address: E. Perera Mawatha, Magalla, Galle, Sri Lanka
Date of violation: March 22, 2002
Tortured at: Habaraduwa Police Station
Suspect police officers: O.I.C. Satisgamage, S. I. Ariyaratne, S.I. Lekamvasam, Sergeant Chandra Soma and others in civilian clothes
Gresha De Silva was the manager of Green Garden Hotel, Katugoda. He was taken into police custody on 22nd March 2002, together with one Buddhika, a relative of his while travelling in a three wheeler taxi, by police officers from Habaraduwa police station. Both of them were taken to the Habaraduwa police station in a police jeep. Both were asked to sit on a bench and the Officer In Charge - OIC of the police station talked to some one over the telephone. Girissa heard, the O.I.C. telling, ¡°We have brought in Griissa¡¦ O.K. Sir¡¦Right Sir¡±
Then Gresha was told, ¡°Tell the truth, if you want to be saved. ¡°The officer was talking about a murder, which took place on the 9th March. Grissa answered ¡°on that day I was with a group of tourist at Nuwara-Eliya. I do not know anything about this.¡±
Then the OIC took Gresha to the police barrack at Ahangama. Girissa¡¯s cloths were removed by force. His hands were tied from the back. He was hung on the beams. He was beaten with wooden poles and S-Lon pipes by O.I.C. Satisgamage, S. I. Ariyaratne, S.I. Lekamvasam, Sergeant Chandra Soma and others in civilian clothes. He was hung and beaten five times the same way by the same persons. He was also hung by the fingers. He asked for water and was told, ¡°when you tell the truth, the water will be given,¡± He asked, ¡°How can I tell something that I do not know¡±? He was not given water.
He was brought back to Habaraduwa police station. Buddhika has been released then. Girissa found his hands to be numb and he could not even take any food with his hands. Buddhika was told by some sympathetic officers that he was assaulted on the ¡°orders from above¡±. Gresha was visited by Attorney Chandrika Ranmalla on the same night and Gresha told the whole story to his lawyer.
Gresha was released on the noon of 23rd March.
Gresha was hospitalized from 23rd March to 11th April. He was examined by Professor Niriella, a well-known forensic specialist in Sri Lanka and was told that the loss of the use both had is unlikely to be recovered.
Gresha has made a complaint to the police station at Galle through his lawyer Kumara Bandara. A representative from Deputy Inspector General recorded a statement from him while he was in hospital.
Under the law in Sri Lanka, torture is a crime punishable with a minimum of 7 years imprisonment. The Convention Against Torture Cruel And Inhuman Treatment Act. No 22 of 1994, has defined torture as a crime, with no defense, to be tried in high court. The filing of indictments rests with the Attorney General (AG). AG¡¯s office has a special unit to investigate crimes committed under Act No.22 of 1994.
Case Of Lalith Rajapakse
Supreme Court grants leave to proceed in gruesome torture case
-- Asia Human Rights News
The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka today issued leave to proceed in a fundamental rights application alleging violations of rights under Articles, 11, 12 and 13 of the country's Constitution. The petitioner in this case is W. R. Sanjeewa, attorney at law, on behalf of S. Lalith Rajapakse. The respondents are Inspector of Police N. D. B. Attanayake, who is the officer in charge (OIC) of the Kandana police station, as well as Subinspector Peiris and Constable Wijeratne (311125), both of whom are officers attached to the same police station, and the inspector general of police and the attorney general.
The petitioner alleged that Lalith Rajapakse was taken to the hospital in an unconscious state from the Kandana police station by police officers on April 20, 2002, after being arrested two days earlier and tortured on April 18 and 19. His condition was described in the interim medical report of Dr. S. Sivakumaran, the consultant physician, after consultation with Dr. Jagath Wijesekara, as follows: "PT [patient] is making a gradual recovery. We feel most likely diagnosis [alleged] to assault due to traumatic encephalitis." The judicial medical officer's (JMO) report, which was submitted later, notes the following injuries: "healing scab abrasion 2 inches x 3 inches on the right scapular region, healing scab abrasion 1 inch x 1 inch on the back of the right elbow, healing scab abrasion 2 inches x 1 1/2 inches on the front of the right chest, contusion 2 inches x 3 inches on the back of the left hand, contusion 2 inches x 3 inches on the front of the left forearm., contusion 1 inch x 1 1/2 inches on the medical side of the left hand, contusion 1 inch x 2 inches on the lateral side of the left hand, contusion 2 inches x 2 inches on the sole of the left foot, contusion 2 inches x 1 inch on the sole of the right foot and cerebral contusion." This last injury is described as an injury which endangers life.
Lalith Rajapakse was arrested on the night of April 18, 2002, at about 10 p.m. by several police officers of the Kandana police station, including the second and third respondents. When he was arrested, he was hit with a boot by one officer on his forehead and beaten with the wooden handle of an axe on the back of his body and other parts of his body and dragged to a jeep waiting outside. He was then taken to the Kandana police station and put inside a cell. On the evening and night of April 19, several police officers hit him all over his body after he was put on a bench. He was severely hit on his soles with blunt instruments. In addition, books were placed on his head, and these books were vigorously hit with blunt instruments. He was then bathed in water. On April 20 at about 10 a.m., the grandfather of Lalith Rajapakse (the deponent of P3) found his grandson's body lying on the floor of the cell in the Kandana police station, and he appeared to be dead. His grandfather immediately sought the help of a local politician (Member of Parliament Jayalath Jayawardene) who made inquiries. Rajapakse's grandfather, when returning to the police station, was told that Lalith Rajapakse had been taken to Ragama General Hospital. At the hospital, the grandfather found the body of Lalith Rajapakse on a stretcher still in a state of apparent unconsciousness. The grandfather and mother of Lalith Rajapakse (the deponent of P2) later on April 20 learned that Lalith Rajapakse had been taken from Ragama General Hospital to Colombo National Hospital.
The petitioner further states that Lalith Rajapakse remained in a completely unconscious condition for 15 days beginning on April 20. Moreover, the petitioner states that Lalith Rajapakse began to recover slowly after this period of time and began to speak sometimes with clarity only after May 13. On May 15, Lalith Rajapakse was transferred to the remand hospital in Welikade.
The petitioner adds that the respondent, after sending Lalith Rajapakse to the hospital, had to create an explanation of how the suspect came to have these injuries. For this purpose, they opened three files, two relating to robbery charges and one attempt to resist arrest, which resulted in the police claiming that they needed to use minimum force to subdue him. Then the police officers took these files to an acting magistrate and, without producing the suspect before the magistrate, got an order to remand Lalith Rajapakse. On this basis, Lalith Rajapakse was in remand custody until May 17. On that day, when an application was made for bail, the magistrate vacated his order on the basis that the original order, made without producing the suspect, was illegal.
The petitioner stated that the grave violations under Article 11 of the Constitution amount to a grave crime under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act No. 22 of 1994. A complaint to this effect was made to the magistrate of the Wattala Magistrate Court on behalf of Lalith Rajapakse, respectfully praying that the matter be brought to the notice of the attorney general of Sri Lanka and to be investigated and prosecuted by the special unit functioning under the attorney general for the enforcement of Act No. 22 of 1994. A lawyer has written to the attorney general to take action under Act No. 22 of 1994. A failure to prosecute the offenders under this law is a violation of the victim's right to be treated equally before the law. The court granted leave to appeal and ordered the respondents to be given notice.
The petitioner, W. R. Sanjeewa, attorney at law, personally presented the petition.
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Published on: 2002-10-24 (1147 reads)[ Go Back ]