SRI LANKA: A farmer killed by Police attached to the Central Anti-Vice Unit of Walana, Panadura and the Police Special Task Force
Posted on May 31st, 2017

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information concerning Mr. Jayalath Kandambige Chaminda (39), a resident of Meegahajandura, Bandagiriya in Hambantota District in Sri Lanka. He had been extra-judicially killed on 27 April 2017, by officers attached to the Central Anti-Vice Unit of Walana, Panadura and Police Special Task Force (STF). No investigation has been carried out, so it remains JUSTICE DENIED for the victim and his family. This case testifies to the extraordinary collapse of the Rule of Law in the country. The State policy of combating crime by killing suspects has allowed the Police to commit murder and enjoy impunity.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Following is information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about Mr. Jayalath Kandambige Chaminda (39), a resident of Meegahajandura, Bandagiriya in Hambantota District. He is not married and living with his parents.

Chaminda was on his farm at Meegahajandura in Bandagiriya on 27 April 2017. While he was in a hut in the middle of the farm, several police officers came and arrested him. He was never told the reason for his arrest. Chaminda works in developing his farm in the daytime and lives there. Chaminda was known to all the villagers. He had the reputation as a supportive farmer in the heavily agricultural rural village. Chaminda cultivated several crops yearly including seasonal vegetables and permanent crops. Throughout the year as a farmer who is heavily engaged with agricultural work, Chaminda alternately lives on his farm or in his house-address above.

On 27th April police officers entered his farm, arrested him and quickly shot him inside the premises of his own farm. He was never informed of the reason for his arrest.

Later his relatives found out that the victim was arrested and killed by police officers attached to the Central Anti-Vice Unit of Walana, Panadura and Police Special Task Force (STF). They further stated that the police did not bother to verify Chaminda’s identity but shot him dead several minutes after his arrest. The police did not make use of an informant or a villager to prove that they were searching for Chaminda. Police officers took the life of an innocent man due to professional negligence and illegal behavior.

After the demise, the Police Headquarters issued a Communique stating that Chaminda was INJURED in an exchange of fire between him and the police. After he was shot, police arrested him and brought him to the Hambantota General Hospital for emergency treatment. He was DEAD on arrival.
In contrast to the first Communiqué, a second statement was issued. It said that Chaminda was injured as a result of an exchange of fire between him and the police, whose duty it was to arrest him. After being shot, he was admitted to the Hambantota General Hospital and SUCCUMBED to his injuries.

A further explanation was made by the Police. According to their officers, the deceased was arrested following information provided by a suspect who was arrested in connection with several robberies. The Police also suspected that Chaminda might have participated in the killing of a Police Sub-Inspector at Kurunegala on 16 November 2016. To his credit, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) ordered an immediate investigation into the suspicious circumstances of the death.

Chaminda’s relatives continue to maintain that he was illegally arrested and extra-judicially killed by the Police. Indications suggest that this is another bad example of the Sri Lankan Police System in action. It extra- judicially kills suspects, who are often innocent, in the guise of crime prevention. In the first four months of this year, the AHRC reported 2 extrajudicial killings carried out by the Sri Lanka police in two different parts of the country, in both instances the victims were died in police custody following arrests

The country still lives under the practice of extra-judicial killings. A suspect, once in the hands of law-enforcing officers, continues to be victimized or killed.

The prevention of crime is one of the paramount duties of any civilized State. According to the Constitution, law-enforcement authorities are bound to protect the right to life of its citizens. And these rights are enshrined in the Constitution. Sri Lanka is a country governed under a democratic framework. The Government is bound: to support the Judiciary, to carry out the Rule of Law and to protect the civil liberties of all citizens. Extra-judicial killings of citizens by police officers, has become an authoritarian norm!

Any confrontation in which a policeman kills a person should be investigated efficiently, and without delay. But, just look at this incident. The State has not shown any interest in investigating the killing or bringing the responsible officers before the Courts. No Major Commander has taken responsibility for the illegal actions of the Sri Lankan police under him. Who then, NOW, should be primarily responsible for killings perpetrated under their command? It is the decision-making Officers.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported numerous cases of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and extrajudicial killings of citizens at the hands of the police. Under International and Local Law these are illegal actions. They have been taking place daily at police stations all over Sri Lanka. It is common knowledge that the Police use torture as an instrument to terrorize innocent people, harass the general public and instill fear. Presently, the Police are implementing a policy of ‘elimination with extreme persuasion’ or in plain language–murdering suspected criminals. They arrest and kill people without their ever being produced in a Court of Law.

Needless to say, there is a lack of protection for those lawyers willing to take up cases against abusive Police Officers and State Authorities. This means that the law continues to be employed as a tool by the authorities to CONTROL people. By undermining society’s respect for the Law and allowing impunity to go on unabated, a long-term, psychological and financial burden is placed on the shoulders of victims, their families and the general population.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Kindly request an immediate investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings by the Police. Prosecution of those proven to be responsible under Criminal Law is imperative. The officers involved, in addition, should be subject to an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders (DOs). The AHRC will write a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in this regard.

To support this case, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-038-2017

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