SRI LANKA: Abduction of a torture victim seeking judicial remedies from the Supreme Court 


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-023-2012
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Impunity, Rule of law, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that a man who was tortured and illegally detained for 28 months was abducted before the Supreme Court could hear his Fundamental Rights application. The AHRC has in the past documented similar cases wherein police officials were directly involved in abducting and murdering torture victims to deliberately prevent them from testifying before court.


At 3:30pm on 11 February, 2012, Mr. Ramasamy Prabakaran was forcibly abducted in the presence of his wife, Shiromi and their daughter, near their home in Canal Bank Road, Wellawatte. Prabakaran, who owns Panama Traders, an electronic shop in Majestic City Complex, is a Tamil of Indian origin.

The Supreme Court was to hear his Fundamental Rights application on February 13. Please read our comments via our Open Letter to the Attorney General.

It is reported that the abductors, armed with assault rifles and shotguns, hid in the immediate vicinity of their home before they abducted Prabakaran. They took him into their ‘white van’ which was waiting nearby before they hurriedly left towards the direction of Dehiwela.

The abduction happened in open view of the public; however, none of those who had seen the abduction and plea of the victim’s wife had come to help. The reluctance and fear of the people to intervene is due, no doubt, to the widely held belief that these white van abductions are actually perpetrated by the security forces themselves.

Prabakaran’s wife, Shiromi, noted the registration number of the white van and immediately reported it to the Wellawatte Police. However, she was told that, “the number plates were false and the vehicle could not be traced”.

The AHRC is of the opinion that the abduction of Prabakaran was deliberately done to prevent any possibilities of remedies by way of preventing him from testifying to the Supreme Court.

In the past, two torture victims were also assassinated. They are Gerald Perera, who was killed a few days before he was to give evidence before the Negombo High Court and Sugath Nishantha Fernando, who was also murdered as he was pursuing a Fundamental Rights application following the torture he and his family endured at the hands of the police.

Like Perera and Fernando, Prabakaran was had also been illegally arrested, detained and tortured from May 2009 before he was released in September 2011 due to lack of evidence and all charges against him were dropped. He was accused of being an LTTE member. In the police custody, he was interrogated, assaulted and tortured by senior police officers.

After his release, Prabakaran filed a fundamental rights application at the Supreme Court alleging “unlawful arrest and detention”. The Supreme Court was to hear his application after it granted leave to proceed. In addition to his fundamental rights petition, he also filed a separate motion asking the court to order the police to unseal the premises of his business, on which the police had continuously kept sealed despite his acquittal by the court from the charges filed on him.

In the fundamental rights petition, Prabakaran’s counsels, Romesh de Silva P.C. and K.S. Rathnavel, named Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Vaas Gunawardena, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Anura Senanayake, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the Attorney General (AG), and eight others as respondents.

After his release, in March 2011 Prabakaran wrote to the Secretariat of the Committee against Torture asking for their intervention and giving details on how he was arrested, detained and tortured. The full text is below:

6767 Magazine Prison
Colombo 08
Sri Lanka

Secretariat of the Committee Against Torture – Petitions Unit
Human Rights Treaties Division
52, Rue Des Pâquis,
CH-1201, Geneva,

Your Excellency,


I, Ramasamy Prabaharan am an inmate at the New Magazine Prison in Colombo for the last five months. At the time of my arrest, I was a well reputed businessman. My fundamental rights have been violated by the Sri Lanka police department and the intelligence services and I humbly seek your Excellency’s humane and just government to help me in deadly predicament I have been forcibly plunged into, by the state. Your Excellency, I beseech you to kindly probe into my grievances and please assist me in securing my release from the grossly unjust situation.

2. The particulars appended pertaining to my business career, unlawful detention, brutal assault, cruel inhuman and degrading torture by abusing me physically as well as mentally whilst held in detention and torturing me into forcibly admitting false allegations detrimental to me, are for your perusal.

3. I am a well reputed businessman, owner of panama traders an electronic outlet in Colombo, established in 1983 is one most popular showroom in Sri Lanka are the main dealers of leading brands such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, apple, black & decker.etc.the annual turnover exceeds 180 million. I am a member of Colombo swimming club, otters aquatic club, Colombo golf club, Sinhalese sports club.inorder for my business I used to travel abroad regularly, even for holidays have travelled throughout Europe,America,Canada,Singapore,Malaysia,Thailand,UAE,hong Kong, Australia, new Zealand and have an OCI (overseas citizenship of India).

4. During my career as a businessman, I have sent letters to the defense secretary of Sri Lanka in regard of developing the country, helped many army officers to capture terrorists, about to kill innocent lives.

5. My medical report has been handed over to the Supreme Court by the JMO (Jayapala).fundamental case no.-963/2009 forms and the medical report will be sent to you in the next mail was unlawfully detained for almost fifteen months from may 19th, without any charges framed against me, and it was only 12th may 2010 that I was remanded and sent to the magazine prison in borella, Colombo 08.

6. Due to the most brutal, inhuman and barbaric assault and torture on me while in detention, I was hanged upside down for almost a day and beaten up severely with a wooden pole, about eighteen times, my nails were removed, my head was toned with nails, after all these torture I had to clean the floor of blood with my tongue. This happened for almost four months, and now am suffering with excruciating pain all over my body and had to undergo treatment but I was taken to the hospital the doctor was shocked to see I’m alive after what I’ve been through and forced me to get admitted but I wasn’t allowed to. The ICRC (no13753) thoroughly checked my body, the torture I went through was said to be the cruelest in the past fifteen years.

7. Before my surrender, I was in India about to be admitted for my throat surgery but when I heard about these allegations I returned, and my throat surgery is still pending.

8. Even though I am in the remand prison, I wish to inform your Excellency that my life is in grave danger as, to obviate the blunder they have made in arresting me and brutally assaulting and torturing me .I have been threatened with death, unless I withdraw the fundamental rights violation application filed by me. Hence, I kindly beseech your Excellency to use your good offices to peruse the facts presented by me. Kindly assist me in the matters placed before you, namely:

A.Adequate protection/security for me whilst travelling to and from the courts to the prison.

B. political asylum for me and my dependants, when I am released from the prison.

C. legal assistance for me to file a case against the Sri Lanka police department and the Sri Lankan intelligence services in the international criminal court of justice.

9. I would like to apprise you of the fact that I am registered with the international committee of Red Cross society. I do hope, your Excellency ,you would consider the facts placed before you and humbly beg you to treat my appeal with compassion and help me out of this unjust and grave predicament.

Eagerly anticipating a favorable reply.

My permanent address-153, Canal Bank road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

Thanking you,

Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking for their immediate intervention to ensure safety and security of Prabakaran. His whereabouts should be determined promptly.

The AHRC has also written letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and on the independence of judges and lawyers asking for their intervention.

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Dear __________

SRI LANKA: Abduction of a torture victim seeking judicial remedies from Supreme Court

Name of victim: Mr. Ramasamy Prabakaran, 42 year old, a Tamil businessman of Indian descent; owns “Panama Traders”, an electronics store at Majestic City Complex in Bambalapitiya
Alleged perpetrators: Seven armed men armed with assault rifles onboard a ‘white van’.
Date and place of incident: At 3:30pm on February 11, 2012 close to his home in Canal Bank Road, Wellawatte
Prior to his abduction: On February 13, the Supreme Court (SC) was to hear his fundamental rights application in seeking judicial remedies due to torture and illegal detention of his person. In September 2011, he was released after 28 months in police custody where he was illegally arrested, tortured and detained since May 2009.

I would like to bring to your notice the abduction of Ramasamay Prabhakaran, 42, who was bundled into a white van by seven men armed with assault rifles and hand guns. This was two days before a fundamental rights case filed by him was to be taken up.

I am aware that prior to his abduction, there had been similar targeted attacks on torture victims in the past; firstly, Gerald Perera, who was killed a few days before he was to give evidence before the Negambo High Court; secondly, Sugath Nishantha Fernando, who also murdered as he was pursuing a fundamental rights application relating to torture of himself and his family by 11 police officers working in the Negambo area. To date, no credible inquiry has been carried out into this murder.

I am deeply concerned by these targeted attacks on torture victims who had been pursuing redress before courts for violations of their fundamental rights were assassinated, allegedly by the persons against whom they were pursuing their complaints.

Recently, in the case of Fernando, the UN Human Rights Committee has already expressed in their views on the 17 October 2011 categorically stating that Sri Lanka has failed to provide redress for the violations of his rights.

I am of the opinion that the abduction of Prabhakaran is a direct affront to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. He was abducted to prevent him from obtaining possibilities of remedies from court, in the similar way it has been done in the murders of Perera and Fernando. They were torture victims who resorted to the courts for protection in their pursuit of justice.

What happened to Prabhakaran, Perera and Fernando, is a clear message to threatening all those victims or any persons who wish to come before the Supreme Court and other courts, to petition for court remedies; to place their grievances about the violations of their rights; to seek the intervention of the judiciary for their protection and for redress. This abduction and murders had a chilling effect on the administration of justice in Sri Lanka.

It is the duty of the judiciary itself to protect those who come before them seeking protection and justice. If the victims of violations desist from seeking justice due to the reprisals for doing so, the entire administration of justice relating to human rights will hardly be of any use. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that the number of applications filed before the Supreme Court on fundamental rights have declined.

The defeat of judicial intervention is always an objective of the executive who fails to protect the rights of the citizens. The objective of the executive is to defeat judicial interventions and attempt to reduce the judiciary to administrative functions. The attack on the juridical function has taken many forms, including far reaching constitutional changes, and the intimidation of witnesses is part of this strategy.

The foundation of law is the recognition of the juridical. If the recognition of the juridical is displaced by the administrative, then the very foundation of the law is undermined.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. N K Illangakoon
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877

2. Ms. Eva Wanasundara
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
Fax: +94 11 2 436421

3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: or

4. Secretary
Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission
No. 108
Barnes Place
Colombo 07
Tel: +9411 2694925, +9411 2685980, +9411 2685981
Fax: +9411 2694924 (General) +94112696470 (Chairman)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-023-2012
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Campaigns : No Torture
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Impunity, Rule of law, Torture,