SRI LANKA: Open Letter to Foreign Correspondents in Sri Lanka

We bring to your attention the case of Sunil Hemachandra, a 28-year-old rubber taper who recently won a lottery but who thereafter died in the General Hospital in Colombo on July 26 from injuries received at the Moragahahena police station. The relatives allege that in the days preceding his arrest he had been approached and harassed by several police officers who wanted to get a part of the money he had won. The local press reported this news with one major Sinhala-language newspaper publishing its story about the case with a large headline.

As you must be aware, there are horrendous forms of torture routinely practised in Sri Lankan police stations under the pretext of conducting criminal investigations. Human rights organisations, including the U.N. special rapporteur on torture and the U.N. Committee against Torture (CAT), have issued reports about this pattern of abuse in Sri Lanka. Moreover, the local media publishes stories regularly.

Despite all of this information, foreign correspondents representing the world’s major media have hardly taken any interest at all in this cruel violation of rights. Elsewhere, however, foreign correspondents do take interest in the issue of torture, and rightly so, as the practice of torture is condemned by the international community as one of the world’s most heinous crimes. However, the interest in torture of the world’s major media seems to be very selective depending on how it suits a particular political or international agenda.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing this open letter to urge you to take a greater interest in exposing the routine practice of the most cruel forms of torture in Sri Lanka and the apparent encouragement of it by the authorities, who, despite much criticism, both from the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and international agencies, refuse to take disciplinary or other measures to stop it. You will have no difficulty in finding large amounts of information about the issue, which AHRC is happy to provide you. Please contact us!

Asian Human Rights Commission – AHRC, Hong Kong

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-24-2003
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,