Nov 11, 2016

Sri Lanka to appear before UN committee over police abuse Featured

A team of senior Sri Lankan officials is due to appear before the United Nations Committee Against Torture on November 15 after several international organizations made representations to the UN committee over police abuse in the island.

Head of the police legal division, DIG Ajith Rohana and chief of CNI Sisira Mendis are due to depart for Geneva today (11) to attend the hearing.

Attorney general Jayantha Jayasuriya will lead the Sri Lankan delegation that will also comprise additional solicitor general Sarath Jayamanne and deputy solicitor general Nerin Pulle.

They will be joined in Geneva by Sri Lankan representatives at the UN Rohan Perera and Ravinatha Aryasiha.

A difficult case to make - HRW

The Human Rights Watch says, “On November 15, Sri Lanka is due to appear before the United Nations Committee Against Torture and is expected to make a case about its security sector reforms – something it agreed to take on after a 2015 UN Human Rights Council review. But this will be a difficult case to make, in large part because of police abuse.”

It says In June 2014, Indika Jayesinha was shot dead by the police on the Colombo-Kandy road while on his motorbike. The police officer admitted to killing him, but remains on active duty.

Sandun Malinga, 16, died from police torture in May 2014. His father said the skin on his son’s back had been ripped, revealing raw flesh underneath. Progress on the case has been slow and halting.

The National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka recently confirmed the existence of unofficial police torture centers and called for police to end these practices.

Meanwhile, HRW says in a new report that Sri Lanka’s police forces regularly torture and ill-treat criminal suspects in custody. The authorities should create an independent oversight authority and adopt concrete steps to end police abuse that has had such corrosive effects across Sri Lankan society.

The 59-page report, “‘We Live in Constant Fear’: Lack of Accountability for Police Abuse in Sri Lanka,” documents various torture methods used by the Sri Lankan police against criminal suspects, including severe beatings, electric shock, suspension from ropes in painful positions, and rubbing chili paste in the genitals and eyes.

Two students shot by police

Two students from northern Sri Lanka’s Jaffna University were shot by police near a checkpoint in the early hours of October 20, 2016. Both died from their wounds.

Initially, police denied the shooting, saying that Sundiraja Sulakshan and Nadarasa Gajan died in an accident.

However, the autopsy found bullets lodged in their bodies. Sri Lankan authorities would still very likely have covered up the incident, the norm in police abuse cases, if it weren’t for the public outrage.

Media, students, and politicians, especially in the predominantly ethnic Tamil north, refused to accept the official narrative, pointing out discrepancies. As a result of the outcry, the authorities suspended five police officers from service and placed them in custody, HRW adds.

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