SRI LANKA: Police allegedly torture men during interrogation


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-034-2009
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Torture,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that police allegedly tortured a man, accused of murder, to force him to provide five names during interrogation in the Nawalapitiya police station on January 9. All five men named were accordingly arrested. One man was allegedly tortured. The other four were put in remand prison despite the fact that these four were not at the crime scene in the estate when the murder occurred. 


Mr. Govindaraj was arrested for the murder of Mr. Bandula Ariyapala, a businessman on January 9, 2009. After the arrest, Nawalapitiya police allegedly hung him from the ceiling and tortured him to reveal five names. Due to the severity of the torture, he finally named friends who had no knowledge about this murder case. 

On the following day, Mr. Yogashwaran was arrested at a funeral home. The other four, named Johnsinghe Amaranayake, Micheal Karen, George, Tarjan, accompanied by their lawyer, surrendered themselves at the police station. Yogashwaran was allegedly tortured for three days after his arrest until he was brought before the Nawalapitiya court on January 13. 

It is reported that the four accused men, with the exception of Yogashwaran, were not in the estate when the murder of the businessman took place. Violence, however, had occurred in this area. Several houses where Tamil tea plantation workers lived were burned down and destroyed. Police allegedly attempted to accuse the five men in order to satisfy the minister Mr. Mahinda Andanda Aluthgamage who was supported by the late Bandula Ariyapala. 


The AHRC has documented several cases relating to torture and ill treatment by the police. It appears to be 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. 

For example, Anil Chandana,19, had to undergo surgery on his leg when he was in prison due to being tortured. (AHRC-UAC-021-2009) Police seldom open 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, at which time, police assault the arrestees or detainees. (AHRC-UAC-012-2009

Another young man, Mr. Abesinhage Don Janaka had to undergo treatment in 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, necessitating hospitalization. (AHRC-UAC-026-2009) The SI in this particular case was also involved in the case of assault and ill treatment of Loku Naramgodage Shantha. (AHRC-UAC-028-2009

Police held both parents hostage until their son surrendered himself to the police. While in custody the father was allegedly tortured and the mother prevented from leaving the station. When the son was handed over to the police some days later, he was also allegedly tortured and one of his legs was broken. The police threatened the son not to reveal this in court. (AHRC-UAC-030-2009

Mr. Sinnavan Stephen Sunthararaj who worked in the field of human rights in Jaffna, as well as in Colombo, was arbitrarily arrested on 12 February 2009 and detained in the Kollupitiya Police Station. Here again the family was not provided with the reason for his arrest. (AHRC-UAC-031-2009

Please send letters to the government authorities below urging them to investigate this case and be reminded that information obtained through acts of torture cannot be used as evidence in the courts. 

Please be informed that the AHRC has also written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture calling for intervention in this matter.

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


Dear _________, 

SRI LANKA: Police allegedly torture men during interrogation 

Name of victims
1. Govindaraj; arrested for murder on January 9, 2009 and detained in Nawalapitiya police station where he was hung from the ceiling and forced to provide five names 
2. Johnsinghe Amaranayake, 32 
3. Yogeshwaran, 28 
4. Micheal Karen, 20 
5. Arulandu George, 20 
6. Arulsamy Tarjan, 28 
(All are residing at Bohil estate, Katabula, Nawalapitiya) 
Current status: Accused 2 to 6 are currently detained at the Kandy Raja Veediya remand prison under case no. B 08/2009–59998 
Name of alleged perpetrators: officers attached to Nawalapitiya Police Station 
Date of incident: January 9, 2009 
Place of incident: in the Nawalapitiya Police Station, Gampola Dist. II, Gampola Division, Central Range (West) 

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the alleged torture of some young men who were accused of murder by police attached to the Nawalapitiya Police Station. 

According to information received, Mr. Govindaraj from Bohil estate, Katabula, Nawalapitiya, was arrested for the murder of Mr. Bandula Ariyapala, a businessman and political activist on January 9, 2009. Bandula Ariyapala was known to have been a strong political supporter of the Minister of Power (Electricity) Mr. Mahinda Andana Aluthgamage. Bandula had being using his position of power to control the estate where the Tamil community resided. 

At the police station, the police allegedly severely tortured Govindaraj by hanging him from the ceiling and assaulting him. They asked him to give five names of his friends. Accordingly, he had no choice but to provide his friends’ names in order not to be beaten further by the police. His friends had no knowledge of this murder. Based on a confession obtained through torture, the police then arrested five persons: Yogashwaran in a funeral home on January 10 and the other four Johnsinghe Amaranayake, 32, Micheal Karen, 20, George, 20, Tajzan 28, accompanied by their lawyer, surrendered themselves to the police. 

According to information I have received, the police allegedly severely tortured Yogeshwaran when they arrested him on January 10 and continued to torture him until January 13 when he was brought before the court. Meanwhile, I fail to understand how the four men, with the exception of Yogeshwaran, can be accused of murder, as they were not in the estate when the murder occurred. 

I therefore urge you to make an impartial investigation into this case so that those responsible for arbitrary detention and torture are prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law. I also urge you to make sure that the confession and the information obtained in the interrogation process through torture or ill treatment by the police is not used as evidence in the court. 

Yours sincerely, 


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

2. 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 

3. Mr. Mohan Peris 
Attorney General 
Attorney Generals Department 
Colombo 12 
Fax: +94 11 2 436421 

4. 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 

5. Professor Rajiva Wijesinha 
Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights 
2, Wijerama Mawatha 
Colombo 7 
Fax: +94 11 268 1982 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-034-2009
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Administration of justice, Torture,