SRI LANKA: Ganemulla Police illegally arrests and severely tortures innocent man based on mistaken identity
Posted on July 13th, 2016

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-085-2016

13th July 2016
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SRI LANKA: Ganemulla Police illegally arrests and severely tortures innocent man based on mistaken identity

ISSUES: torture; illegal arrest; detention; impunity; rule of law; justice
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Dear Friends,

According to the information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Mr. Nihal Aruna Shantha, resident of Kirindivita, Ganemulla in the Gampaha District, was baselessly arrested on 1st July 2016. Having being misidentified as the suspect, he was severely tortured and detained by the officers attached to the Ganemulla Police Station. Later, severely injured, Nihal was admitted to the Gampaha General Hospital for treatment. He later learned that police wanted to, in fact, arrest a man named Aruna Shantha Niroshan of Bollatha, Ganemulla. As a result of this mistaken identity, the innocent victim had to undergo several surgeries in hospital, and has suffered permanent damage to his teeth. The case illustrates the lack of basic investigation skills and mentality and impunity of Sri Lankan law enforcement officers. The AHRC calls for an immediate inquiry into the conduct of the officers attached to the Ganemulla Police.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Nihal is a father of one, and is a permanent resident of Kirindivita, Ganemulla, in the Gampaha District. On 1st of July at 11:30 p.m., while he was at his residence with his family members, three police officers dressed in civilian clothes suddenly forcefully entered his home and tried to drag him away. When his wife questioned the officers, the reason for taking her husband, the officers yelled at her and said they came to arrest him following a request made to the police emergency service (119). They further said that they would take Nihal to the Ganemulla Police Station. Both Nihal and his wife told the officers that there was no reason for anyone to make any emergency call about Nihal, as he had neither dispute and nor had any incident occurred that would make cause anyone to make a complaint in the area.

Then the police officers mentioned that there is an arrest warrant against him. Both Nihal and wife vehemently questioned and refused to concede that there could be a warrant against Nihal, as he had never committed any crime, and no one had made any complaints against him as per their knowledge. Nihal asked the officers to show him the arrest warrant, or a copy of the warrant. The officers refused.

At that point, the officers started to beat Nihal by punching and kicking him. As a result, Nihal fell to the ground. The officers continuously tortured him for 15 minutes, in front of his family members. Within a few minutes he started to bleed from his mouth and chin. Then the police officers used Nihal’s shirt to try and control the bleeding.

Nihal’s wife tried to bring cool water with ice cubes to stop the bleeding. The officer, later identified as Police Constable (PC) Jayathilaka, chased her away, saying, we know how to treat him after taking him to the police station”, which implied that he would be severely tortured there.

Officers ordered Nihal’s wife to bring a trouser and shirt for Nihal. When she was bringing the same, the police officers shouted at her again. Then they asked for Nihal’s National Identity Card. She produced the same. Then they asked for the key of the car, but Nihal’s wife refused. Following this, Nihal was dragged into the police jeep parked nearby.

The police officers first brought Nihal to the Ganemulla Police Station. At the Station they took his mobile into their custody. Several minutes later, the police officers brought Nihal to the Gampaha General Hospital and admitted him to the Emergency Treatment Unit. When he was admitted to the hospital, the doctors questioned the police officers for the reason for injuries. The police officers said that Nihal had fallen from a building. But when the doctors questioned Nihal he explained how brutally he was tortured by the three police officers at his home.

Later, Nihal was brought to the operation theater of the hospital and subjected to several surgeries for his injuries. He lost hearing in his right ear. Three of his teeth have been permenently damaged. The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) examined him and recorded all the details of the injuries that he suffered as a result of torture.

Nihal was discharged from hospital on 3rd of July and he is, to date, receiving medical treatment and cannot go about his daily chores on his own.

Days after he was arrested and tortured, several officers of Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) visited his house and recorded a statement; Nihal explained the entire story: how his rights were violated. But he still does not know what action has been taken by the HRCSL to investigate the incident other than recording his statement. Nihal has also learnt that several national media groups have given publicity about how he has been tortured by the police. In one report, the Superintendent of Police (SP) Gampaha promised to conduct an impartial investigation into the incident. But Nihal states that he does not know any of such investigation. He states that no authorities have yet conducted an impartial and independent investigation into the incident.

Nihal states that police illegally arrested, detained, and brutally tortured him, and that his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution have been grossly violated by these police officers. He demands swift justice, reparation for his injuries and for his suffering, and punishment of those responsible.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, detention, and torture 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 department orders as issued by the police department.

The AHRC will also write a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in this regard.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Ganemulla Police illegally arrests and severely tortures innocent man based on mistaken identity

Name of Victim: Mr. Nihal Aruna Shantha of Kirindivita, Ganemulla in Gampaha District.
Alleged perpetrators: Officers attached to the Ganemulla Police Station.
Date of incident: 1st of July 2016
Place of incident: Ganemulla Police Division

According to the information I have received Mr. Nihal Aruna Shantha, resident of Kirindivita, Ganemulla in the Gampaha District, was baselessly arrested on 1st July 2016. Having being misidentified as the suspect, he was severely tortured and detained by the officers attached to the Ganemulla Police Station. Later, severely injured, Nihal was admitted to the Gampaha General Hospital for treatment. He later learned that police wanted to, in fact, arrest a man named Aruna Shantha Niroshan of Bollatha, Ganemulla. As a result of this mistaken identity, the innocent victim had to undergo several surgeries in hospital, and has suffered permanent damage to his teeth.

Nihal is a father of one, and is a permanent resident of Kirindivita, Ganemulla, in the Gampaha District. On 1st of July at 11:30 p.m., while he was at his residence with his family members, three police officers dressed in civilian clothes suddenly forcefully entered his home and tried to drag him away. When his wife questioned the officers, the reason for taking her husband, the officers yelled at her and said they came to arrest him following a request made to the police emergency service (119). They further said that they would take Nihal to the Ganemulla Police Station. Both Nihal and his wife told the officers that there was no reason for anyone to make any emergency call about Nihal, as he had neither dispute and nor had any incident occurred that would make cause anyone to make a complaint in the area.

Then the police officers mentioned that there is an arrest warrant against him. Both Nihal and wife vehemently questioned and refused to concede that there could be a warrant against Nihal, as he had never committed any crime, and no one had made any complaints against him as per their knowledge. Nihal asked the officers to show him the arrest warrant, or a copy of the warrant. The officers refused.

At that point, the officers started to beat Nihal by punching and kicking him. As a result, Nihal fell to the ground. The officers continuously tortured him for 15 minutes, in front of his family members. Within a few minutes he started to bleed from his mouth and chin. Then the police officers used Nihal’s shirt to try and control the bleeding.

Nihal’s wife tried to bring cool water with ice cubes to stop the bleeding. The officer, later identified as Police Constable (PC) Jayathilaka, chased her away, saying, we know how to treat him after taking him to the police station”, which implied that he would be severely tortured there.

Officers ordered Nihal’s wife to bring a trouser and shirt for Nihal. When she was bringing the same, the police officers shouted at her again. Then they asked for Nihal’s National Identity Card. She produced the same. Then they asked for the key of the car, but Nihal’s wife refused. Following this, Nihal was dragged into the police jeep parked nearby.

The police officers first brought Nihal to the Ganemulla Police Station. At the Station they took his mobile into their custody. Several minutes later, the police officers brought Nihal to the Gampaha General Hospital and admitted him to the Emergency Treatment Unit. When he was admitted to the hospital, the doctors questioned the police officers for the reason for injuries. The police officers said that Nihal had fallen from a building. But when the doctors questioned Nihal he explained how brutally he was tortured by the three police officers at his home.

Later, Nihal was brought to the operation theater of the hospital and subjected to several surgeries for his injuries. He lost hearing in his right ear. Three of his teeth have been permenently damaged. The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) examined him and recorded all the details of the injuries that he suffered as a result of torture.

Nihal was discharged from hospital on 3rd of July and he is, to date, receiving medical treatment and cannot go about his daily chores on his own.

Days after he was arrested and tortured, several officers of Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) visited his house and recorded a statement; Nihal explained the entire story: how his rights were violated. But he still does not know what action has been taken by the HRCSL to investigate the incident other than recording his statement. Nihal has also learnt that several national media groups have given publicity about how he has been tortured by the police. In one report, the Superintendent of Police (SP) Gampaha promised to conduct an impartial investigation into the incident. But Nihal states that he does not know any of such investigation. He states that no authorities have yet conducted an impartial and independent investigation into the incident.

Nihal states that police illegally arrested, detained, and brutally tortured him, and that his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution have been grossly violated by these police officers. He demands swift justice, reparation for his injuries and for his suffering, and punishment of those responsible.

I request the intervention of your good offices to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, detention, torture by the police perpetrators. 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,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Pujith Jayasundara
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: [email protected]

2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: [email protected]

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: [email protected] or [email protected]

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: [email protected]

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])

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