SRI LANKA: Police allegedly torture and ill treat a man


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-028-2009
ISSUES: Inhuman & degrading treatment, Police negligence, Police violence, Torture,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding an alleged illegal arrest, torture and ill treatment of a man by a Sub Inspector of police attached to Meegahatenna police on March 2, 2009 in Sri Lanka. He was manacled to a door throughout the whole night in a standing position. As a result of the assault and ill treatment, he vomited blood and fainted. 

CASE DETAILS(Based on the testimony of Loku Naramgodage Shantha) 

On March 2, 2009, at about4:15pm, when Shantha came home from work, his neighbour Anuruddha came demanding to know if he knew anything about the theft that had taken place in his house. Anuruddha insisted that Shantha knew about the theft. He took hold of Shantha by the collar and assaulted him on the mouth, face and chest and shouted “Sub Inspector! I have caught the thief.” 

When he shouted this, a person dressed in civilian clothes hiding close to a bridge nearby, came out. This person then threatened Shantha not to try and run and handcuffed him saying that he is from the police. Taken aback, Shantha asked what all this was about. He was accused of taking stolen goods from Anuruddha’s house and was told to return them. 

Then saying that they will look for the stolen goods, the Sub Inspector (SI) and Anuruddha took Shantha to a house in the vicinity, belonging to his brother in law, which was locked. They searched the empty house all the while threatening Shantha to return the stolen goods. 

Shantha pleaded that he did not steal any goods and that he lived by picking coconuts. The SI, taking a pole which he had picked up from Shantha’s house, told Shantha to raise his manacled hands over his head and keep them on the wall. He then beat him on the spine and on the chest. 

Thereafter Shantha was taken to some neighbouring land to a locked house belonging to Nimal Pitigala. This house too was examined. Then he was taken near the house of Anuruddha where a police three wheeler pulled up. The SI hit Shantha with the pole again and told him to get into the three wheeler. They drove towards an area known as Bothalawa, saying that there was one more person to be caught. 

Keeping Shantha with a Grama Arakshaka officer (a para military officer) who drove the three wheeler, the SI and Anuruddha went towards another house. Sometime later they returned stating that the fellow had run off on seeing them coming. 

Then they drove to the Meegahatenna Police Station, where Shantha was manacled to the grill of the door of an arms and ammunition store. Anuruddha had come along with them too. It was about 7pm. Shantha was kept like that until the next day. He wanted to go to the bathroom but was not allowed to do so. Shantha got to know that the SI who assaulted him was named Senaviratne. 

The next day on March 3 at about 6:30am, Shantha pleaded with the Reserve Officer to let him go to the bathroom, and was allowed to go with a Grama Arakshaka officer. However on the way Shantha vomited blood and fainted. The last thing he remembered was that the Grama Araksahaka officer was shouting that he had fainted. 

When Shantha regained consciousness on March 4, he was at the Nagoda Hospital. He got to know that he had been taken to the Meegahatenna Hospital where they had refused to admit him and referred him to the Nagoda Hospital. Shantha received treatment in ward 7 until March 9. 

At 8:10am on March 4, the Magistrate visited Shantha at the Hospital. The SI Senaviratne also came. Shantha related the incident to the Magistrate. Shantha stated that SI Senaviratne had assaulted him. The Magistrate then made inquiries about the assault from the doctor who pointed to several places on Shantha’s body. The Magistrate made note of this. 

SI Senaviratne then took a statement from Shantha. He told him not to be afraid and he would not send him to remand. He would soon be able to go home and that he will come and see him at his home. SI Senanviratne voiced regret that he had wronged Shantha and left. 

A little later a Grama Arakshaka officer came and asked Shantha what he needed. Shantha replied that he did not need anything. Then a doctor said that since Shantha smelled of trees he should clean up and to bring some clean clothes for him. The Grama Arakshaka officer then stated that the SI had given him money to buy anything Shantha needed, so he went and bought a new sarong for him. Later, again saying that the SI had given him money he bought him a t-shirt. While Shantha was at the Nagoda Hospital a Grama Arakshaka officer and a police officer were stationed at his bed side. 

On the afternoon of March 6, the prison officials took charge of Shantha and he continued to receive treatment at the Prison Hospital in Kalutara till March 9. 

On March 11, Shantha was produced before the Mathugama Court. Shantha said that he was not aware of the charges against him. A surety bail of Rs. 100,000/= (USD 878) and a cash bail of Rs. 5,000/= (USD 43) was ordered. Since it was quite late that day, it was not possible to furnish these requirements, so Shantha was again remanded to prison. Bail was furnished and he was released on March 13. The case Number in question is BR 334/09. 

Shantha says that he has to go to the Nagoda Hospital again to continue medical treatment on April 1. He also says he needs to receive x-ray treatment and an injection. He further says that he is disabled and cannot work now because of the direct assault of SI Senaviratne of Meegahatenna Police. 

Shantha requests that due disciplinary and legal action be taken against SI Senaviratne for illegally arresting him on the instigation of the person named Anuruddha, assaulting him, and thereby disabling him. 

On March 16 a written complaint about the said incident was sent to the Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission and National Police Commission, Inspector General of Police, Attorney General and Senior Superintendent of Police Kalutara. 


The AHRC has documented several cases relating to torture and ill treatment by the police. It is common practice for the police to assault a person at the time of arrest without due process as well as on the way and inside the police station during interrogation. 

The case of Anil Chandana,19. He had to undergo surgery to his leg when he was in prison due to being tortured. (AHRC-UAC-021-2009) Police seldom start an investigation and when they do, it is hard to see it as a thorough or transparent investigation. They rather threaten the complainant to withdraw his case (AHRC-UAC-019-2009). Arbitrariness of arrest and detention is common and during this time, police assault the arrestees or detainees. (AHRC-UAC-012-2009) Another young man, Mr. Abesinhage Don Janaka had to undergo treatment at the prison hospital due to injuries allegedly caused by police torture. (AHRC-UAC-024-2009

Sunil Shantha was accused of theft without any evidence and severely tortured, followed by hospitalization. (AHRC-UAC-026-2009) In this particular case, the same SI was also involved in the assault and ill treatment. 

Please write to the local authorities listed below and demand that an adequate investigation be conducted so that those responsible for torture and ill treatment against the victim are properly prosecuted and punished according to the law. 

Please be informed that the AHRC has also written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________, 

SRI LANKA: Police allegedly torture and ill treat a man 

Name of victim: Mr. Loku Naramgodage Shantha (47) Coconut pucker; married with 3 children; 
Resident of Amundara Polgampala; Case no. BR 334/09 before Mathugama Magistrate court 
Name of alleged perpetrators: Sub Inspector Senaviratne attached to the Meegahatenna Police, Mathugama Dist., Kalutara Division, Western Province (South) Range 
Date of incident: 2 March 2009 
Place of incident: Meegahatenna 

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the alleged torture and ill treatment of a man, on March 2, 2009, by the Sub Inspector (SI) of Police Senaviratne attached to the Meegahatenna Police Station. 

According to information received, when Shantha came home from work at about 4:15pm on March 2, a neighbour assaulted him and informed a man in civilian clothes that Shantha stole some gold. The man identified himself as a police officer, later known as a SI. Based on the statement from a neighbour, the SI arrested him and searched a house in the vicinity belonging to his brother in law without a warrant. While Shantha pleaded that he did not steal any goods and lived by picking coconuts. The SI took a pole and allegedly assaulted him on his chest and spine while raising his manacled hands over his head and keeping them on the wall. 

At 7pm, the SI took Shantha to the Meegahatenna Police Station where he was manacled to the grill of the door of an arms and ammunition store and kept in that standing position until the next day. When he was released, he begged officer Grama Arakshaka to go to the bathroom where he vomited blood and fainted. Shantha regained consciousness at Nagoda Hospital on March 4 and received treatment in ward 7 until March 9. 

I am also informed that when the Magistrate visited him in the hospital at 8:10am on March 4 Shantha narrated all relevant incidents. The Magistrate made inquiries about the alleged assault from the doctor who pointed to several places on Shantha’s body which the Magistrate noted down. After this, the SI said he regretted what he had done and tried to settle the matter by instructing Grama Arakshaka to buy some clothes for Shantha. 

I am aware that Shantha was produced before the Mathugama Magistrate court on March 11 and released on bail on March 13 but he was still not informed of the charges against him. 

In light of the above, I urge you to investigate this case so that those responsible for ill-treatment against Shantha are properly prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law. The investigation must include what motivated the SI to assault Shantha on two occasions, at the time of his arrest and inside the police station, in order to properly address the problem. I also urge that Shantha be compensated for the physical and mental damages he sustained and be afforded proper medical treatment. 

Noting that the SI has also been involved in a similar case where he allegedly assaulted a man named Sunil Shantha at the time of arrest and ill treated him on the way to the police station, I further urge an independent investigation into the police officers as well as the police station administration. 

Yours sincerely, 



1. Mr. Jayantha Wickramaratne 
Inspector General of Police 
New Secretariat, Colombo 1 
Fax: +94 11 2 440440/327877 

2. Mr. Priyasath Dep 
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 
Fax: +94 11 2 395867 
Tel: +94 11 2 395310 
E-mail: or 

4. Secretary 
Human Rights Commission 
No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8 
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470 
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806 

5. Senior Superintendent of Police 
Office of the Senior Superintendant of Police 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-028-2009
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Inhuman & degrading treatment, Police negligence, Police violence, Torture,