SRI LANKA: A man was died while in the custody of the Moratuwa Police
Posted on September 28th, 2010

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION-URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME

ISSUES: Extrajudicial killing; impunity; rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a man was found with fatal injuries to the stomach caused by sharp weapon while in the custody of the Moratuwa Police Station. He was arrested on 22 September 2010 and detained in the police station. He was found with fatal injuries in the evening 25 September and admitted to the Teaching Hospital of Kalubowila, he succumbed to his injuries the following day. The fact that no proper investigation of the case has been carried out is a denial of justice to the victim and his family. The case is a further illustration of the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in the country; it emphasizes the irresponsible manner in which the law enforcement agencies work, especially the Sri Lankan police service.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information that we received, Mr. Appuhandhi Kotahewage Nayanajith Prasanna of No. 1B, Balawinnagama, Balawinna, Balapatha was arrested by the police officers attached to the Moratuwa Police Station on 22 September 2010. He was brought to the police station together and detained in a holding cell.

There has been no explanation by the Officer-in-Charge of the Moratuwa Police Station as to why Nayanajith was not charged with any crime and not produced before a Magistrate. The law in Sri Lanka clearly states that anyone suspected of a crime must be produced before a Magistrate within 24 hours from the time of arrest. On the evening of 25 September Nayanajith was found in his cell with severe cuts to the abdomen. He was admitted to the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital by the police officers where he succumbed to his injuries on 26 September.

The police claim he committed suicide while in custody by slashing his stomach with a shard of glass which was on the table inside the police cell. This is yet another example of the police failing to ensure the safety of a detainee. According to the Departmental Orders of the Sri Lankan Police Department any article or item which may be used to harm either the detainee (by himself) or used by the detainee to attack an officer should have been removed. According to the police version Nayanajith was arrested on suspicion in connection with a robbery that had taken place in the area.

According to the Criminal Procedure Code No. 15 of 1979 the police officers are legally bound to produce the suspect within 24 hours time from their arrest to the closest court, however, this was not done. Furthermore, the police officers are legally bound to report all arrests to the court. This also, was not done.

In this particular incident Nayanajith was in police custody and the officers have a non transferable responsibility for the life and safety of the suspect. They are obliged to protect him from internal and external threats to his life. At the same time the police officers are responsible to prevent all the possibilities of committing suicide by the detainees as well.

The police officers are legally bound to maintain the details on the situation of the detainee while in police custody including his movements and wellbeing. In this particular case it is clearly evident that there was little or no supervision of the detainee.

The Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the police station is responsible to protect all the detainees under his custody. Having reached the rank of OIC this officer alone should have the experience necessary to handle the situation.

In this particular case Nayanajith was detained in police custody well beyond the period stipulated by the law. Further the manner in which the police handled the detainee clearly shows that the officers must take responsibility for his death. The incident should be promptly investigated and those found responsible should be brought before the law.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported innumerable cases of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and extra judicial killings cases of citizens at the hands of the police which is illegal under international and local law and which have taken place at different police stations in the country over the past few years. The Asian Human Rights Commission has observed that the Sri Lankan police have used torture as an instrument to terrorize innocent persons and harass the public. Further, the country’s police are implementing a policy of eliminating criminals by killing them after arresting them without producing them to the court of law.

The Constitution of Sri Lanka has guaranteed the right freedom from torture. According to Article 11 of the Constitution ‘No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. Further, Article 13(4) “No person shall be punished with death or imprisonment except by order of a competent court, made in accordance with procedure established by law. The arrest, holding in custody, detention or other deprivation of personal liberty of a person, pending investigation or trial, shall not constitute punishment.” Further article 13 (5) guarantees the right of presumption of innocence until being proven guilty.

Departmental Order No. A. 20 of Police Department
Rules with regard to persons in custody of the police

(e) Persons in the lock-up will be visited at least once in every two hours by the Police Officer on Reserve Duty. In the case of a lunatic or drunkard persons they will be visited by this Officer once every half hour.
6. Property of Persons under Arrest. (a) All property, including jewelry that is worn on the person, such as rings, earrings, &c., and such articles of clothing as may be dangerous, such as a long neck tie, braces a belt and shawl, &c., on a man or a frock belt or long head handkerchief on a woman will be taken away from a person under arrest.
(c) Where a person desires to retain his coat for wearing in the cell, he may be permitted to do so after the pockets, lining &c., have been carefully searched and articles found have been removed.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Nevertheless the lack of protection offered to those who are willing to take cases against abusive police officers and the state authorities, means that the law is under-used continues to be employed as a tool by the police to harass people. This not only takes a long-term toll on the victim and his or her family, but on society as a whole, by the undermining of civilian respect for the law and encouraging impunity.

Furthermore, the Asian Human Rights Commission has continuously exposed the way the witness and the victims are getting harassed and on some occasions even killed to suppress the justice. Furthermore we have urged the State of Sri Lanka to adopt a law for the protection of witness protection.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations extra judicial killings by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department.

The AHRC has also written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on this regard.

To support this appeal please click here: Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: A man was died while in the custody of the Moratuwa Police

Name of Victim: Mr. Appuhandhi Kotahewage Nayanajith Prasanna of No. 1B, Balawinnagama, Balawinna, Balapatha

Name of alleged perpetrators: Police officers attached to the Moratuwa Police Station

Date of incident: 26 September 2010
Place of incident: Moratuwa Police Station

According to the information that I have received, Mr. Appuhandhi Kotahewage Nayanajith Prasanna of No. 1B, Balawinnagama, Balawinna, Balapatha was arrested by the police officers attached to the Moratuwa Police Station on 22 September 2010. He was brought to the police station together and detained in a holding cell.

There has been no explanation by the Officer-in-Charge of the Moratuwa Police Station as to why Nayanajith was not charged with any crime and not produced before a Magistrate. The law in Sri Lanka clearly states that anyone suspected of a crime must be produced before a Magistrate within 24 hours from the time of arrest. On the evening of 25 September Nayanajith was found in his cell with severe cuts to the abdomen. He was admitted to the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital by the police officers where he succumbed to his injuries on 26 September.

The police claim he committed suicide while in custody by slashing his stomach with a shard of glass which was on the table inside the police cell. This is yet another example of the police failing to ensure the safety of a detainee. According to the Departmental Orders of the Sri Lankan Police Department any article or item which may be used to harm either the detainee (by himself) or used by the detainee to attack an officer should have been removed. According to the police version Nayanajith was arrested on suspicion in connection with a robbery that had taken place in the area.

According to the Criminal Procedure Code No. 15 of 1979 the police officers are legally bound to produce the suspect within 24 hours time from their arrest to the closest court, however, this was not done. Furthermore, the police officers are legally bound to report all arrests to the court. This also, was not done.

In this particular incident Nayanajith was in police custody and the officers have a non transferable responsibility for the life and safety of the suspect. They are obliged to protect him from internal and external threats to his life. At the same time the police officers are responsible to prevent all the possibilities of committing suicide by the detainees as well.

The police officers are legally bound to maintain the details on the situation of the detainee while in police custody including his movements and wellbeing. In this particular case it is clearly evident that there was little or no supervision of the detainee.

The Officer-in-Charge of the police station is responsible to protect all the detainees under his custody. Having reached the rank of OIC this officer alone should have the experience necessary to handle the situation.

In this particular case Nayanajith was detained in police custody well beyond the period stipulated by the law. Further the manner in which the police handled the detainee clearly shows that the officers must take responsibility for his death.

I request your urgent intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of the extrajudicial killing of the victim. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department.

Yours sincerely,

———————
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Mahinda Balasuriya
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: igp@police.lk

2. Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: ag@attorneygeneral.gov.lk

3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk or polcom@sltnet.lk

4. Secretary
Human Rights Commission
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

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

One Response to “SRI LANKA: A man was died while in the custody of the Moratuwa Police”

  1. Sri Rohana Says:

    AHRC you guys are doing a wonderful job for Nayanajith. It is a human right case if someone killed with in the police.
    Iraq: I was wondering why you guys don’t take any action in Iraq where at this moment more than 1 million humans killed by American, British, Australian, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Norwegian and other Christian army. In additionally there are 6 million Iraqi’s lost their homes and live as refugees. Several millions are IDP’s (internally displaced peoples).
    Afghanistan: NATO, European army and British colonial armies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand invade Afghanistan. Killed several million Afghans and killing now itself in their own country.
    *Why you guys don’t consider American, British and European killing as human right violations?
    *Do you guys think that killing of Muslims are not considered as violation of human right?
    *Do you guys think American, British and Europeans have a right to kill even several millions of human beings? Under what law or what human right act authorized them.
    *Several millions killed to protect whose human rights? The petroleum companies or weapon manufactures or fundamentalist Christian church?
    *Don’t you guys consider invasions aren’t violation of human rights?
    * What actions you guys take against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan?
    *How many letters you guys send to USA, NATO, UK and their colonies in protest several million killing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    *Most know that you guys are cat’s paw of CIA, MI6 and other European spy agencies?Is it true?
    *Which American companies are sponsors of AHRC
    *Are you guys humans or clones or aliens?
    *Which should give the priority over one million killings or 1-person killings. Why you guys are deaf and dumb in million killings in Iraq and Afghan but fully active in Sri Lanka’s scenario

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