SRI LANKA: Police and jail guard allegedly torture a boy to confess


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-030-2008
ISSUES: Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the alleged torture, by the Police, of a 16-year-old boy by the Sooriyawewa police on 20 January 2008 in Sri Lanka. He was tortured into confessing to a crime, which he has since denied. He was also reportedly tortured by his guards at the Hambanthota prison on January 24. Police filed charges against him of two robbery cases using the forced confessions.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the information received from the victim, Umesh Chaturanga)

Umesh Chaturanga is a 16-year-old student of H/Meegahajadura Maha Vidyalaya.

According to the information received, at about 2:30pm on 20 January 2008, Umesh Chaturanga, went to the Sooriyawewa police station with his parents after they had been asked to report there. His school principal Sunil Kumara was also at the police station. One of the officers, Sergeant Premadasa called him inside and asked him, in front of his school principal, whether he had broken the door of home science room with his friends. When he denied the accusation, Premadasa started beating him on his shoulders with a 2 to 3 foot long wooden pole. In addition Premadasa asked him what else he had done after breaking the door. Soon thereafter, Officer Anura, a member of the Traffic police came into the room and slapped him on his right ear. His father was in front of the station but not allowed to come inside.

After the two police officers assaulted him, Umesh was locked him up in a cell. His father tried to call him and retrieve him from the station but the officers chased him away. When he refused to leave the officers shouted at him that he could bring something to eat for his son. At around 5:30pm his father returned with two rolls and buns and left. The principal also left at the same time.

At midnight, the two officers above mentioned took Umesh out of the cell. Premadasa dragged him by his shirt collar and shouted, “Tell the truth! You took a television set and an amplifier”. When Umesh denied the charge, they beat him again on his shoulders, lower back and both legs for about half an hour. Then they asked him which other boys were involved. He stated that on 7 December 2007, as the room door was not locked, he entered the room with Nuwan Rana and prepared and drunk some tea, but neither boy stole anything. The officers again beat him and put him back in the cell. Even though he was in severe pain due to the torture, the police did not provide any medical treatement.

At 5am on 21 January, the officers took him out of the cell and demanded to know where he was hiding the jewelry stolen from Coranel Ralahamy’s house and started hitting him again. As he could not bear the pain caused by the torture any longer, Umesh Chaturanga forcibly confessed to the accusations. Then Premadasa wrote something in a police entry book. The officers took him to the principal, teachers and his parents and forced him to confirm his confession. He had no choice but to accept everything because he was afraid that the officers might torture him again if he refused. Premadasa said to the others, “Now you heard he accepted everything.”

Then, the officers took him and his parents in a three-wheeler. They dropped his parents off near his house, before proceeding to his friend Nuwan’s house. Nuwan was not at home but on the way to another friend’s house, Dinesh, they came across Nuwan on a bicycle with another person. They arrested Nuwan and put him into the three-wheeler. Premadasa slapped Nuwan on both cheeks and legs. The officers then went in search of a boy known as Rana (Chatura Maduranga) and arrested him too. They took the boys with them out to Kinissayaya Junction. Premadasa got a wooden pole and shouted at the boys asking them to identify the location of the stolen goods. When the children said that they did not steal anything, the officers repeatedly hit them with the wooden pole and then put them into the cell at the police station.

On 23 January the police filed two robbery charges against them and then brought them before the Hambanthota court. The children were taken to Hambanthota prison as they were unable to pay the fine Rs. 10,000/= (USD 92) and put in a room with nine other inmates. Guards at the jail tortured Umesh with hose pipes and put him under a table in order to humiliate him in the guards’ room on the night of the 24th. On 25 January the children were produced before Hambanthota court again and released on bail.

On 3 February Sergeant Premadasa picked up Umesh, Nuwan and Lahiru from their respective houses and brought them altogether to the police station. On the way, he threatened them by saying, “Give us all the stolen goods, otherwise we will call the villagers and hold a meeting and tell them that you are thieves.” After travelling about one kilometer, he stopped the vehicle and told Umesh and Nuwan to run. When Umesh went to the police station on Sunday to sign in as required under his conditions of bail, Premadasa once again threatened him saying, “I tortured Lahiru, he would hold a meeting and hand you over to the villages unless you return the goods you have stolen.” However, Umesh has strongly denied any knowledge as to the whereabouts of the goods.

Umesh Tharanga has submitted a complaint to the Inspector General of Police, Senior Superintendent of Police Tengole, National Human Rights Commission and Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Sooriyawewa police station. He has also sent his affidavit to Chief Justice, National Police Commission and Child Authority.

Please write letters to the authorities listed below urging them to thoroughly investigate this alleged torture and fabricated charges against Umesh Tharanga.

The AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture calling for an intervention in this matter.

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


Dear __________,

SRI LANKA: Police and jail guard allegedly torture a boy to confess

Name of victim: Abeysekara Valigoda Arachchilage Umesh Chaturanga, 16 years old, residing at No.25, Migahajadura, Sooriyawewa Town
Name of alleged perpetrators:
1. Sergeant Premadasa
2. Sub Inspector Anura
(All are working at Sooriyawewa police station)
Date and place of incident: tortured on 20 January 2008 at Sooriyawewa police station, Hambanthota Dist. I, Tangalle Division, Southern Range; tortured by jail guards on January 24 in Hambanthota prison

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding at the use of torture to force confessions out of a 16 year old boys. The subsequent threats, blackmail and abuse received by the child after charges had been brought against him also highlight systemic failures in the police and penal systems.

According to the information I have received Umesh Chaturanga, a 16 year old student, had appeared at the Sooriyawewa Police Station an order to appear by the Police on 20 January 2008 at about 2.30pm. He was taken by Sergeant Premadasa into a room at the police station and was there interrogated and tortured. Sgt Premadasa beat him using a two to three foot wooden stick about the shoulders. He was joined by Sub-Inspector Anura who beat and slapped Umesh. His father was denied access to him and when he attempted to contact his son was chased away from the Police Station.

The officers assaulted him until he was in so much pain he confessed to robbery and causing damage to school property. The officers forced him to make this confession to the school principle, teachers and his parents. The two officers then rounded up Umesh’s friends Nuwan, Lahiru and Chatura Maduranga a.k.a. Rana. They took the boys to Kinissayaya Junction, where upon attaining a wooden pole from one of the nearby villagers they proceeded to beat them accusing them of stealing.

Following this, on 23 January, charges were brought against the boys accusing them of robbery on two counts and brought them before Hambanthota court. When unable to pay the Rs. 10,000/- (USD 92) fine they were taken to Hambanthota prison where they were put in a cell with nine other cell-mates.

I am further informed that Umesh was assaulted at the prison. He was beaten with hosepipes and put under a table in the guard’s room at the jail on the 24 January. The children were released on bail on 25 January.

I am informed that the boys were picked up by Sergeant Premadasa on the 3 February who threatened to accuse them of theft and turn the village against them if they did not reveal where the stolen goods were. He repeated the threat to Umesh on the Sunday when he reported into the station on condition of his bail.

I understand that Umesh has submitted a complaint to the Inspector General of Police Senior Superintendent of Police Tengole, National Human Rights Commission and Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Sooriyawewa police station. He has also sent his affidavit Chief Justice, National Police Commission and Child Authority.

I, therefore, urge that you conduct an immediate and impartial investigation and inquiry into the victim’s complaint against the Galgamuwa Police and thereafter take appropriate disciplinary and legal action against the alleged perpetrators. I also urge you do disregard any confession by the boys that may have been obtained under torture, not only is such a confession unreliable evidence, to admit it would be tantamount to sanctioning the use of torture by the Police in an investigation as opposed to the use of clear, verifiable methods of investigation.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. Victor Perera
Inspector General of Police 
New Secretariat 
Colombo 1
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877

2. Mr. C.R. De Silva 
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

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

5. Director
Anuradhapura and Polonnaaruwa Districts Branch
National Police Commission
No. 1191/65, Nagasena Mawatha
MailgaS Handiya
Tel: +94 60 285 3003

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-030-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,