ASIA: Women’s views on prevention of torture – Interview 30

An interview conducted by the Asian Human Rights Commission. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC.

Sri Lanka – A woman speaks out against bad policing and torture

This is Subani. She is the daughter of a furniture manufacturer. She is also a 32-year-old mother of one and reading for her external degree. She made following comments to the questions posed to her.

What do you think of the policing system of Sri Lanka?
It is difficult to say that police is good. There are a lot of errors by the police. There is a tendency towards supporting wrongful acts. Most of the time they do not enforce the law in a proper way. They have to concentrate on law enforcement because they are the guardians of law. But today there is no law to protect. These things should be changed from the beginning. I do not understand which way they should be changed. I just cannot say that the way which prevails is good.

What do you think of use of torture by police?
The most affected from torture are the small people. There is a tendency to think that more people commit wrongs when they are unemployed, because of poverty, or because they are uneducated. These are the people whom the police assault to find answers. But the people from higher classes and senior level commit fundamental wrongs. They are not harassed to find out the truth. If they did, the police will face transfers or lose of jobs. The majority who undergo torture are small people. To find out the correct answers they have to practice the torture. The other side is that we know it is wrong and unreasonable. Because we don’t know exactly that the person who was assaulted to obtain the truth is the same person who commits the crime. Sometimes people are assaulted without doing anything wrong.

How is the relationship between police and the public?
Generally the people who do small jobs are afraid of the police. But the majority of people who commit wrongs have no fear for police. They know they will be released by who are in higher places. They also think the police are on their side. Because of political power, the majority who commit wrongs have no fear of the police. The small man is affected always. They are afraid of police and ask whose law this is. This type of situation prevails today. The only option is to have police when we deal with the law. We go to the police station for everything. But the enforcement of law is not done properly. According to my way of thinking, our safety inside the police station depends on various circumstances including, the questions and problems that we will deal with.

What do you think of the domestic violence law?
There is a law for the prevention of domestic violence. If it is implemented properly, women will go to complain. Nowadays, if a woman goes to make a complaint about domestic violence, the police will not pay attention to it. The people who live in shanties undergo this type of thing. These people are neglected by society. So the police also do the same. These things are very common,
Poor people who go to the police very often. The police do not care about it. The people belong to higher classes very rarely go to make complaints to the police. They go to courts directly and not to the police. The people who are not much educated and poor go to the police because they have no other way.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-138-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Police negligence, Police violence, Torture, Violence against women, Women's rights,