Posted on September 4, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
Several events have had a shocking effect on democratically-minded people in Sri Lanka this week. J.S. Tissainayagam, a well-known journalist who was prosecuted by the government under draconian anti-terrorism laws on charges of aiding and abetting terrorism and trying to provoke racial hatred, was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment. The case of the journalist has drawn international attention and many governments have intervened on his behalf. However, the Sri Lankan government persisted in pursuing the charges, which are described by many sources as unfounded.
In the north, the news that 10,000 IDPs have gone missing during the last three months has also given rise to many fears and queries. The source of information was the government agent of Vavuniya itself. However, the government has not given any credible explanation as to how these 10,000 persons have come to be missing. Unofficially, there has been a statement given to the effect that some IDPs who had gone to hospitals for medical treatment have not returned; while other reports stated that some IDPs may have fled from the camps after paying bribes. (more…)
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Posted on August 30, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
“Disappearances in Sri Lanka mean killings after arrest. Many young persons were taken from their homes by police or military personnel and the families were promised that they would be safely returned after the recording of a statement.”
This week, former Senior Superintendent of Police Douglas Peiris and three other police officers were found guilty at the Gampaha High Court of abduction of two young boys, who were brothers, with the intention to kill, and were sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment. This incident took place in 1989 in a period in which a large number of disappearances – estimated officially at 30,000 – took place. SSP Douglas Peiris and many other senior police officers have been accused of engaging in large-scale disappearances, but the prosecution of these cases has failed due to many factors.
The prosecution of this particular case has taken 20 years. Only a handful of cases out of the huge number of disappearances were prosecuted. Most of these cases failed, mostly due to witness intimidation or the natural deaths of witnesses due to the long delay. The investigations into the cases themselves started only many years after the incidents due to political pressure to protect the perpetrators. It was only after changes of governments and popular pressure that action was taken, though wholly inadequate, to investigate some of the cases. (more…)
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Posted on August 26, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
I am writing this on behalf of the Asian Human Rights Commission on a matter that is, I am sure that of great importance and urgency to all the members of parliament, whatever political party they might belong to. This is the issue of extreme lawlessness within the policing system which is causing shock, scandal and fear among the people. There is no doubt that you will agree on the seriousness of the problem and there is a need to act decisively to change this situation.
The executive president and the prime minister have acknowledged the problem and made public statements regarding the issue. However, there is no sign of any serious effort or an indication of a plan to deal with this national problem. Mere prosecution of a few police officers of lower ranks relating to a few incidents is no real response to this enormous crisis. (more…)
Filed under: 17th Amendment, abductions, civil society, corruption, crime, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, human rights, illegal arrest, justice, media, police, rule of law, Sri Lanka, torture, violations, witness protection | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 24, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
“Has protection of the minorities improved? What about those detained because they are suspected of having had links to the LTTE, without any evidence to that effect? What about the human rights of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)?”
As some claims have been made about improvements of human rights in Sri Lanka, it may be useful to consider some basic criteria in judging human rights improvements.
There are many factors that determine the possibility of improvement of respect for human rights within a particular country. These factors are
1) Constitutional matters,
2) Other legislative matters,
3) Institutional matters,
4) Budgetary measures, and
5) Matters relating to some of the most ingrained violations of rights within the particular context.
The constitution of Sri Lanka is the greatest obstacle to the achievement of human rights. The Executive Presidency has absolute impunity, power to dissolve parliament at any time after one year of election without following any procedure, virtually subordinating the parliament and the judiciary. This has undermined the separation of powers. The executive has monstrous power. There are no checks and balances. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, civil society, corruption, crime, extrajudicial killings, human rights, IDPs, IGP, illegal arrest, illegal detention, justice, police, politics, rule of law, Sri Lanka | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 20, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
“The following actions are suggested as a way the government could respond to the present situation in order to restore the confidence of the people on the government’s seriousness in dealing with this colossal problem.”
As scandals relating to police became a topic that is discussed nationally, two more such scandals came to light. A group of policemen who went to arrest a suspect allegedly assaulted his pregnant wife, who was pleading with them not to arrest her husband. The police officers are reported to have attacked and kicked her after she fell on the ground. Angry neighbors retaliated against the police and assaulted them. Four police officers have been admitted to Colombo National Hospital with grievous injuries.
In a separate report, a man who went to surrender to Sapugaskanda police station was demanded payment of 400,000 rupees by way of bribery. This man had surrendered to the police through a lawyer, answering a public invitation requesting any person who belonged to the underground to surrender themselves to the police. The invitation to surrender came as a result of high publicized protests regarding execution of alleged underground elements, under the pretext of self-defense, after they have been arrested by the police. However, (more…)
Filed under: abductions, civil society, corruption, crime, extrajudicial killings, human rights, illegal arrest, justice, police, politics, rule of law, Sri Lanka, torture, violations | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 16, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
Responsibilities of members of parliament regarding drunkenness and abuse of power by police
Jeevan Kumaranathunga, the member of parliament for the Angulana area, spoke to the BBC about the police murders of Dinesh Tharanga Fernando and Danushka Udayakantha. He said that he had received many reports about the drunkenness of the police at the Angulana police post and that he had made representations to the relevant authorities about this situation. He said that it was because no action has been taken that this unfortunate tragedy has happened.
The statement of this member of parliament raises many issues about the responsibilities of the local parliamentarians and other local politicians regarding the maintenance of discipline at the police stations in their areas. From towns and villagers throughout the country, reports are heard all the time of the most exceptional forms of police indiscipline. Drunken behavior of policemen in the evening is not an exceptional event that has happened only at the Angulana police post. Reports of hundreds of cases reveal that this is happening everywhere. Besides this, in every police station people are tortured, and there is no police station that could be found now where arrested persons have not been extrajudicially executed. (more…)
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Posted on August 15, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
Bribery and Extortion are the causes of Police abuse of power
”That gentleman [OIC] can’t stand the sight of young boys. He arrests them and takes them to the police station and assaults them. Parents go to the police station and pay money to get the boys released. He arrests the boys in order to make money. We also went to the police station when we heard about the arrest of our son, and we took money to give him. But we were not shown the boy and we were unable to rescue him,” said the mother of Tharanga Fernando to the BBC Sinhala service. Tharanga Fernando was one of the two boys killed after arrest by police officers from Angulana police station.
The father of the boy said, “When we went to the police station we found that all the police officers were heavily drunk.”
The Angulana police murders of two youths, Dinesh Tharanga Fernando and Danushka Udaya, has shaken the whole area and led to violent protests by a large number of people from the area. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, Bribery Commission, civil society, corruption, crime, extrajudicial killings, human rights, IGP, illegal arrest, illegal detention, justice, police, politics, rule of law, Sri Lanka, torture, violations, witness protection | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 14, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
Two school boys murdered by police for teasing a girl
“It is time that the government appoints a team of Supreme Court Judges to inquire into police extrajudicial killings, the widespread practice of torture, the common practice of fabrication of charges on innocent persons, and the general breakdown of discipline within the police.”
Large crowds gathered around the Angulana police station today (13th of August) as the news spread of two schoolboys killed due to police assault. The bodies of the two boys, Dinesh Tharanga Fernando and Danushka Udaya, were found near the railway tracks. They had been arrested on the previous day, allegedly for teasing a girl.
The Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Angulana police station and six other police officers attached to this police force are reported to have been arrested for causing the deaths of these boys. It is also reported that the girl who is said to have been teased was known to the OIC. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, civil society, corruption, extrajudicial killings, human rights, illegal arrest, illegal detention, justice, police, rule of law, Sri Lanka, torture | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 13, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
Attorney General’s Department is a Phantom Limb
At one time there existed a department called the Attorney General’s department. Its functions were to provide legal advice to the government on all matters of public interest, and to be the prosecuting agency in Sri Lanka. This agency still exists in name. However, substantially it has lost its place as the government’s legal adviser and prosecuting agency. Judging by the way the government’s acts now, it cannot be said that it is acting on the basis of proper legal advice. Judging from so many cases which constitute serious crimes and are not prosecuted, it is also not possible to say that there is a genuine and an authentic prosecuting agency in the country. Added to this, judging by filling of cases purely for political purposes, it is also no longer possible to say that the prosecutions in Sri Lanka are undertaken purely on the basis on law.
Virtual demise of the Attorney General’s department is a matter of grave concern (more…)
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Posted on August 9, 2009 by srilankalawlessness
FAILURS OF THE IGP AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL REGARDIG EXECUTIONS WITHOUT TRIAL
‘What is happening today is that both the police department and the Attorney General’s department are subordinating their authority to the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Defense is acting as the agency that creates the attitudes relating to which crimes should be investigated and prosecuted and which crimes should not be investigated and prosecuted.’
The kidnapping and assault of Nipuna Ramanayake, allegedly by several police officers and the family members of CCD director Vaas Gunawardene, took a new turn when about fifty persons brought from outside the area demonstrated with slogans that the young student Ramanayake was in fact a leader of a criminal gang. Obviously the demonstration was orchestrated to diffuse the public support for investigations into the kidnapping and torture charges. The demonstrators also are reported to have destroyed the posters put up by fellow students in support of Nipuna.
That incident itself is a demonstration of the manner in which demands for investigation by victims of crime are trivialized in Sri Lanka. The attempt now is to let people forget the incident of the kidnapping and assault and that therefore any public pressure on the authorities to conduct the inquiries will be poo-poo’d. Then business will return to normal.
There is a severe contradiction between trying to eliminate criminals, as claimed to be the goal of the government, and trivialization of crime that has taken place in Sri Lanka over a long period of time. (more…)
Filed under: abductions, Attorney General Depatment, corruption, crime, Defence Ministry, human rights, IGP, illegal arrest, justice, police, rule of law, Sri Lanka, torture, violations | Leave a Comment »