SRI LANKA: A Demonstration by Victims of Torture to Create Public Awareness Today

Update on Campaign to Prosecute Torture Perpetrators 

Today a demonstration by torture victims will be held at the UDHR Monument on Bullers Road in Colombo to create public awareness about the widespread practice of torture and to gain public support to implement Sri Lanka’s law against torture through the prosecution of perpetrators and through compensation for the victims and their rehabilitation. About 300 victims and human rights activists are expected to attend. It is the first demonstration of its kind on the issue of torture. 

Recently, two major exhibitions have been held on torture, its causes and the failures of the government agencies responsible for eliminating torture despite the availability of legal provisions that enable these agencies to take strong action. 

The participants today will state their positions through the use of posters and songs, poems, etc. The victims themselves will also hold a press conference to tell their stories directly to the people. In addition, they will distribute copies of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act (Act No. 22 of 1994). 

A person guilty of an offence under this act shall, on conviction after trial by the High Court, be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not exceeding 10 years and a fine of not less than 10,000 rupees (US$117) and not exceeding 50,000 rupees (US$586). An offence under this act shall be a cognizable and non-bailable offence within the meaning, and for the purposes of, the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979. 

Although there is a unit in the government dedicated to bringing cases to court under this act – the Prosecution of Torture Perpetrators Unit in the Attorney General’s Dept. – no one has yet been brought to trial under Act No. 22 of 1994, although some cases have been filed. The demonstrators today will try to inform the public about this lack of enforcement of the act and the need for the Attorney General¡¯s Dept. to take credible steps to implement this law. 

This is the first of many similar demonstrations that have been planned by People against Torture, Janasansadaya, Niveka and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). 

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : MR-18-2002
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,