SRI LANKA: The initial arrest in torture victim Gerald Parera’s murder case

December 24, 2004

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The initial arrest in torture victim Gerald Parera’s murder case

The initial arrest in Gerald Parera’s murder case confirms the analysis made by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) when the AHRC came to know that Gerald was shot in a bus on 21 November 2004. The AHRC characterized the incident which killed Gerald as the work of police officers who are accused in the torture case in which Gerald was to give evidence on 2 December 2004. The AHRC categorically asserted that the attempt was with the deliberate intention to prevent Gerald from giving evidence in the case which would implicate and thus lead to the conviction of some or all of the accused. It was also obvious that there is the involvement of the underworld in the entire incident. The AHRC pointed out that before and after the assassination several police officers including some who were not directly accused in Gerald’s torture case but were accused in other torture cases must have collaborated with the perpetrators to carry out the murder and also to make the detection of the crime as difficult as possible. 

The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Branch, the Director of the Crime Investigation Department and several other police officers of various ranks should be congratulated for the strenuous investigation which took over a month in making this initial breakthrough. The Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General’s Department did keep their promises for a thorough inquiry in this instance.

The reports in the news papers indicate that there would be more arrests in this case. The information given by the family indicates that there must have been an elaborate planning involving several persons behind this assassination. Many unknown persons had visited Gerald’s house in his absence pretending to be his friends in days previous to the assassination. Months before the assassination some persons have wowed to kill Gerald as revenge for his pursuit of justice in the torture case. On the day when Gerald shot he was accompanied to the bus in a rather curious manner and the companion who only left Gerald once Gerald was inside the bus. The family had many suspicions about telephone exchanges from near their house to some persons about Gerald’s whereabouts. Within the police itself there has been attempts to mislead the investigation by making wrong references to some vital information. Thus there is a great web yet to be examined and exposed relating to this murder.

While leaving matters of justice to courts where the rights of the accused also will be respected the AHRC wishes to draw the attention of the public and the authorities in Sri Lanka on the ominous impact that the revelations in this case will have on the country as a whole. It is a sad reflection of the law and order situation of the country that no one will be surprised that one or more police man is involved in a brutal murder and that it was executed with the connivance of the underworld. The terrible impressions that the institutional failures have made in the minds of the people are such that hardly very much surprise is caused by such events.

It is time therefore to look into this matter not purely from the point of view of adjudication that will take place in courts but also through a socio psychological and political spectrum from which the current situation of the serious defects in the system is to be examined. While the alleged individual suspects may be left to the courts the overall situation must be subject to intense public debate with the view to make a decisive change in the years to come.

The fact that a section of the police themselves investigated the matter impartially and professionally shows that there is within the institution itself a considerable section of the people who will like to see the end of a particular era of bad policing and to begin another era within which the rule of law and the human rights can be sustained through a system of professional law enforcement. This is a need of the better elements in the policing system itself. But it is also a need of the country that is badly battered by the crisis of law enforcement and the influence of criminal elements within and outside the policing system.

It is rather ironic that it was some episodes which happened to a very ordinary citizen without any social clout, political importance or other influences that has highlighted the tremendous dangers faced by the people in the country and its basic institutions.

It is simply not possible for Sri Lanka as a nation to survive in the midst of such a grave collapse any further. Much greater peril await if a serious social examination does not begin forthwith. It is rather sad that it is not possible to expect a great drive in this direction from the country’s political leaders. Sad and cruel exploitation of the degenerated situation and even exploitation of the criminal police nexus is a way many politicians throughout the country survive in their politics. Any proper scrutiny of the party funds of many political parties will show the extent of contribution made by illegal underworld elements for such funds. Examination of some political figures will even reveal worse.

The revelations about an innocent citizen’s cruel death planned and carried out by law enforcement officers ironically with the view to safeguard their job reflects the psyche of an average police officer  who thinks that it is legitimate to commit murder in order to preserve his employment as a police officer. This itself is a reflection of the ludicrous situation the country has reached.

The AHRC once again would like to state that it is encouraged by the serious work done by the police investigators in this case but at the same time wish to call on all concerned persons in the country and outside to engage in a serious discourse on the present predicament relating to rule of law with the view to develop strategies, plans and actions towards the creation of better situation.

* Complete details about Mr. Gerald’s murder and the statements and releases issued by the AHRC is available at

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-68-2004
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Police violence, Torture,