SRI LANKA: Police attempt to extra-judicially kill an innocent man
Posted on October 20th, 2017

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the extra-judicial attempt to kill Mr. Pathirana Champika Kumara Jayatunga (28), a resident of Biyagama Police division by SFT Officers. The victim went out with his friend to purchase a new vehicle. Their rented van was fired on by a group of STF Officers in camouflage uniforms. The Officers without giving any signal to stop, fired at the vehicle, seriously injuring Pathirana. Officers brought the victim to the North Colombo Teaching Hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds. The relatives questioned the Police investigating the incident and requested them to bring the responsible Police Officers before the Courts. THEY ARE WAITING FOR JUSTICE.

CASE NARRATIVE:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information about Mr. Pathirana Champika Kumara Jayatunga (28), Heiyanthuduwa, Biyagama in the Gampaha District.

On 12 August 2017, Pathirana was at home in Biyagama when his friend Mr. Kumara arrived. He asked him to accompany him to Chilaw and Pathirana agreed to go. They were to confirm the details about purchasing a vehicle for his friend Kumara. Pathirana was travelling in the van rented by Kumara. At 5:30 p.m. on 12 August 2017, as they were driving along, he observed that their vehicle was being overtaken by a Police jeep. He was able to identify the jeep as belonging to the Special Task Force (STF). The Officers were in camouflage uniforms. Pathirana was afraid of them and asked the driver to stop the van. Within a minute, the Officers in the jeep started to open fire on them.

Pathirana was shot and fell on the floor in the rear of the van between the seats. Pathirana asked the Officers for help. He continuously protested to the Officers that he was innocent and not to harm him. The Officers brought him to the Ragama Teaching Hospital where he was admitted to the Emergency Unit for evaluation. Pathirana was in a serious condition. He was immediately brought to the Operating Theater for surgical intervention.

Trying to justify their actions, the Police Media Spokesman issued a statement. It said that SFT officers had information at the end of the week that Pathirana and his friend was on their way to rob wealthy persons on their way to the bank. However, Police did not produce complaints or details of the information which they allegedly received against the victim.

The relatives emphatically stated that the firing incident was reported at 5:30 p.m.. Sri Lankan banks close before 3:30 p.m.. No bank accepts customers beyond the speculated hours. Two exceptions are branches where services extend until 8 p.m. or 24 hour working Super Grade Branches. But, there was no such branches in this area. Therefore the relatives of the victim refuted and did not accept the allegations raised by the Police.

Family members stated that neither Pathirama nor his friend in the van were guilty of violent or criminal activity. They were not a public nuisance to pedestrians or other vehicles on the road. They did not cause trouble for the Officers on duty at that time. No driver, passenger or neighbor in the vicinity made verbal, phone or written complaints against him. One must conclude that in such a situation of suddenly opening firing on them, without warning, is illegal and dangerous.

Relatives knew that the STF Officers were not conducting the official business of ‘peace officers’ according to the Criminal Procedure Code, No: 15 of 1979. It is the regular Police Officers who conduct investigations, make arrests and produce suspects in the Courts. In this instance, STF Officers, without warning, simply opened fire on unsuspecting civilians who were driving along in a peaceful manner. This kind of conduct by STF Officers has caused severe distress, concern and fear among the civilian population.

Following on the above-mentioned facts, the victim’s relatives took the position that STF Officers allegedly attempted to extra-judicially kill Pathirama. They posited that it is the duty of the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Negombo Headquarters Police Station to: investigate, arrest the responsible suspected Officers and report the facts to the Magistrate’s Courts in this attempted murder case. However, up until now, the OIC has failed in his Duty of Care to take ANY action under the Law. THE VICTIM HAS BEEN DENIED JUSTICE.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the Authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Kindly request an immediate investigation into allegations of an attempted extra-judicial killing by the Police. Prosecution of those proven to be responsible under Criminal Law is imperative. The officers involved should also face an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders. 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:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Police attempt to extra-judicially kill and innocent man

Name of Victim: Mr. Pathirana Champika Kumara Jayatunga (28), Heiyanthuduwa, Biyagama in the Gampaha District
Alleged perpetrators:
1) Officers attached to the Special Task Force (STF)
2) Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Negombo Headquarters Police Station
Date of incident: 12 August 2017
Place of incident: Negombo Police Division

According to information I have received, Mr. Pathirana Champika Kumara Jayatunga (28), Heiyanthuduwa, Biyagama in the Gampaha District, On 12 August 2017, was at home in Biyagama when his friend Mr. Kumara arrived. He asked him to accompany him to Chilaw and Pathirana agreed to go. They were to confirm the details about purchasing a vehicle for his friend Kumara. Pathirana was travelling in the van rented by Kumara. At 5:30 p.m. on 12 August 2017, as they were driving along, he observed that their vehicle was being overtaken by a Police jeep. He was able to identify the jeep as belonging to the Special Task Force (STF). The Officers were in camouflage uniforms. Pathirana was afraid of them and asked the driver to stop the van. Within a minute, the Officers in the jeep started to open fire on them.

Pathirana was shot and fell on the floor in the rear of the van between the seats. Pathirana asked the Officers for help. He continuously protested to the Officers that he was innocent and not to harm him. The Officers brought him to the Ragama Teaching Hospital where he was admitted to the Emergency Unit for evaluation. Pathirana was in a serious condition. He was immediately brought to the Operating Theater for surgical intervention.

Trying to justify their actions, the Police Media Spokesman issued a statement. It said that SFT officers had information at the end of the week that Pathirana and his friend was on their way to rob wealthy persons on their way to the bank. However, Police did not produce complaints or details of the information which they allegedly received against the victim.

The relatives emphatically stated that the firing incident was reported at 5:30 p.m.. Sri Lankan banks close before 3:30 p.m.. No bank accepts customers beyond the speculated hours. Two exceptions are branches where services extend until 8 p.m. or 24 hour working Super Grade Branches. But, there was no such branches in this area. Therefore the relatives of the victim refuted and did not accept the allegations raised by the Police.

Family members stated that neither Pathirama nor his friend in the van were guilty of violent or criminal activity. They were not a public nuisance to pedestrians or other vehicles on the road. They did not cause trouble for the Officers on duty at that time. No driver, passenger or neighbor in the vicinity made verbal, phone or written complaints against him. One must conclude that in such a situation of suddenly opening firing on them, without warning, is illegal and dangerous.

Relatives knew that the STF Officers were not conducting the official business of ‘peace officers’ according to the Criminal Procedure Code, No: 15 of 1979. It is the regular Police Officers who conduct investigations, make arrests and produce suspects in the Courts. In this instance, STF Officers, without warning, simply opened fire on unsuspecting civilians who were driving along in a peaceful manner. This kind of conduct by STF Officers has caused severe distress, concern and fear among the civilian population.

Following on the above-mentioned facts, the victim’s relatives took the position that STF Officers allegedly attempted to extra-judicially kill Pathirama. They posited that it is the duty of the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Negombo Headquarters Police Station to: investigate, arrest the responsible suspected Officers and report the facts to the Magistrate’s Courts in this attempted murder case. However, up until now, the OIC has failed in his Duty of Care to take ANY action under the Law. THE VICTIM HAS BEEN DENIED JUSTICE.

I therefore request your intervention to ensure that an immediate investigation is undertaken into the attempted murder of Pathirana. He was unexpectedly and directly fired upon by STF Police Officers. The Officers involved must face an internal investigation for breach of Departmental Orders.

Yours Sincerely,
———————
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: igp@police.lk
  2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
    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)
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