SRI LANKA: Supreme Court Grants Leave to Proceed in Jerad Perera’s Torture Case
On 26th of June, three judges of Supreme Court of Sri Lanka heard the submissions of the petitioner in the fundamental rights violation case in which Jerad Perera complained of brutal torture by the Officer In Charge (OIC) and 7 other officers of the Wattala police station. At the time the petition was being made the Jerad Perera was in a unconscious state living with the help of a life support system as result of torture. The beatings of the person had so affected the muzzles that proteins and other substances have entered his blood stream, making it unable for kidneys to function. Respondents have admitted after torture that they have made a mistake in arresting Jerad.
Rights guaranteed under article 11 and 13 of the constitution has been violated by the respondents, petitioned alleged. The court consisting of Justices Mark Fernando, Viknesvaran and Gunasekara granted leave to proceed, fixed that answer of the respondents must be filed in two weeks and the final hearing will be on 19th of August 2002.
The Petitioner alleged that Waragoda Mudalige Gerard Mervyn Perera after finishing his work at The Colombo Dockyard around 9 a.m. on the 3rd of June 2002 went to his mother¡¯s place at Alwis Town. Having spent some time there, around 11 he went by bus to Ekala. At Ekala he bought some groceries to take home and then took the Gampaha bus go to his home at Gonagaha. He got off at the Welikada junction and started walking towards his home.
Two persons dressed in civilian clothes held him by the hand and took him to a jeep that was parked nearby, saying, ¡°It¡¯s you we want. We were waiting till you came¡±, and pushed him into the jeep. This took place around 12:45 p.m. on the 3rd June 2002 Seeing his wife and his three year son inside the jeep, Jerad asked his wife \”Where is our daughter?\” Sobbing she replied \”They did not allow me to fetch them from the pre-school.\”
Realizing that the men in the jeep were police officers Jerad pleaded with them men \”Please collect my daughter and drop the three of them at my sister’s house in Alwis town.\” This request was not heeded. His wife and son were dropped on the roadside and he was taken away.
While being taken in the jeep Jerad Perera’s banian was removed and he was blindfolded with it. At the time of his arrest he was not been given any reason for his arrest or produce any warrant issued by any court of law.
Jerad Perera was taken into the Wattala police station and was brutally assaulted by the officers attached to Wattala police station. The first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh respondents and an another police officer whose name is not known, engaged in torturing Jerad Perera. Jerad Perera¡¯s hands were tied behind the back and he was hung on a beam. Thereafter he was brutally tortured for about one hour. They have beaten Jerad with a wooden pole and with an iron bar to. He was severely beaten on his back, legs, abdomen and the other parts of his body.
Thereafter he was untied and brought to the upstairs of the police station. He was laid on the floor and started to burn his to hands with the matches. Jerad Perera was questioned about a murder about which he knew nothing. He was tortured by several policemen. Those who tortured him were the respondents named above and another officer whose name is not known. He was kept at the police station on the night of 3rd June. The next morning Jerad Perera was told that he was arrested due to wrong information given to the police.
Around 10 a.m., of morning of the 4th of June, of Jerad Perera¡¯s wife, his brother Ranjith Perera, the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Pradhesiya Sabha visited the police station and made inquiries about Jerad Perera from the first respondent. He said that Jerad Perera has been taken to custody due to false information. Gerard Perera was released from the police station on the morning of 4th of June.
As Jerad Perera was complaining of severe pains, he was taken to Yakkala Wickramarachchi Ayurvedic Hospital on the same day. The doctor who examined Jerad Perera found that his condition was very serious and advised that he should be taken to a hospital with facilities for intensive care. Jerad Perera was immediately taken to Nawaloka Hospital, Colombo.
Since then and up to now Jerad Perera has been in the Intensive Care Unit of the Nawaloka Hospital. While in hospital Jerad Perera made a statement to an officer from Slave Island police station about the way he sustained his injuries. All efforts are being made to save Jerad Perera¡¯s life. He is attached to a life support system. The victim’s condition worsened by 14th of June .The doctors have advised Jerad Perera¡¯s family that his condition is very critical and that he may not survive the injuries.
Jerad Perera has been visited in hospital by several friends and relatives. The affidavit of Jerad Perera’s wife who was present at the time of the arrest and was an eyewitness to the manner of his arrest, is attached as document marked P1 as part and parcel of this petition. The petitioner also files a copy of a statement sent by the wife of Jerad Perera to Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP’s Office, Peliyagoda as marked document P2 and is attached it as part and parcel of this petition. The petitioner further files a copy of a telegram sent by K.P.J.R. Fernando on the instruction of the wife of Jerad Perera on 14th of June to the Honorable Chief Justice marked as document P3 and is attached it as part and parcel of this petition.. The same message was telegraphed to the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police. Jerad Perera¡¯s wife made a complaint on his behalf about the violations of his fundamental rights to the Human Rights Commission in Colombo.
The petitioner claimed that the following rights of Jerad Perera, guaranteed under the Constitution of Sri Lanka has been violated by the Respondents above named: Article 11, guaranteeing freedom from torture and other cruel and Inhuman Treatment or Punishment. Article 13.1 of the said Constitution as no reason for the arrest was given to the Jerald and his arrest was done against the procedures establish by the law and Article 13.2 guaranteeing freedom form illegal detention. The Petitioner further states that the right to life is implied in the Constitution and the Respondents by seriously endangering the life of Jerad Perera have violated his right to life.
The petitioner has prayed for a declaration of violation of his rights, for compensation and an order to attorney general to prosecute the perpetrators under Act. No 22 of 1994 of Sri Lanka, which prescribed minimum 7 years of imprisonment for any act of torture.
The Court consisting of Justices Mark Fernando, Viknesvaran and Gunasekara granted leave to proceed, fixed that answer of the respondents Jerad must be filed in two weeks and the final hearing will be on 19th of August 2002.