SRI LANKA: Witness of murder case allegedly harassed and removed from employment


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-036-2008
ISSUES: Inhuman & degrading treatment, Legislation, Police negligence, Victims assistance & protection,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the authorities at the Negombo Base Hospital have allegedly harassed a women since she reported a suspicious incident of murder to the Negombo police on 12 November 2007. She was transferred from one place to another, and ultimately removed from her employment. She had consistently reported these harassments to the police. However, the police have failed to effectively protect her.

CASE DETAILS: (based on the information received from the victim, Beatrice)

About 11:30am on 12 November, 2007, Beatrice, formerly employed by Will Shine Janitor Services Limited (which provided janitorial services to the Negombo Base Hospital), was resting in the room allocated to her on sixth floor of the hospital, after finishing her routine work in the Surgical Theatre. She was then startled by an odd sound and left her room to see what it was. In the corridor she saw someone she recognized as a doctor dragging the body of a woman on a piece of cardboard. Beatrice has stated that the woman had long hair which was dishevelled, and her clothing was open exposing her breasts. She has stated that when the Doctor saw her he smiled, and in response to her question: “what happened sir?” he smiled again and said “no, no nothing.”

Beatrice went to the tea room adjoining the Surgical Theatre where she told Nurse Mayurani what she saw. She explained that she recognized the person to be a doctor who she had seen many times in the Theatre. Nurse Mayurani asked her to describe the doctor and then said “I am sure it is Sudarshana. He has a serious court case. Do not tell this to any one.”

At about noon Beatrice went to the Will Shine office on the hospital premises to get permission to go to the bank to withdraw her salary. She was with the supervisor of the Will Shine office when she heard people shouting that a girl had fallen from the upper floor. She saw people gathering and doctors examining the body of a girl. Beatrice did not get close because she suspected and feared that the girl would be the same she had seen the doctor dragging across the corridor.  Also she remembered the words of nurse Maurani who had warned her not to tell anyone about what she had seen. Frightened she went back to her room.

Shocked by what she had seen and heard Beatrice skipped lunch that day. However at about 1:15pm as she returned to the Surgical Theatre to clean, Dr. Sudarshana entered the Theatre and smiled at her. She observed that the Dr. had changed out of the clothes he was wearing earlier as he was now dressed in a t-shirt.

At about 3pm Beatrice learned that the girl who fell from the sixth floor had died while she was being taken for treatment to Colombo. Greatly frightened Beatrice did not share what she had seen that morning with anyone else.

At about 10:30pm the Inspector of Police (IP) Subasingh and some other officers from Negombo police station came to Beatrice’s house and spoke to her about the incident at the hospital. They pressed her to tell them what she had seen and assured her that she should “not be afraid.” Beatrice told them everything she knew.

At around 11am on November 13, Beatrice was called to the Negombo police station and then taken to the hospital where she had seen the doctor dragging the body of the girl. The magistrate was there.

On November 15, Beatrice reported to the hospital for duty as usual and continued to attend to her work without hindrance.

On November 27, Beatrice was asked to be present at the court of the Magistrate for an identity parade where she recognized Dr. Sudarshana. Here she also gave her formal statement as requested by the Magistrate.

On December 2, Dr. Inoka de Silva, an anesthetic consultant at Negombo Base Hospital, informed Beatrice that after she finished cleaning up the Surgical Theatre she was not to return to the room which she had occupied for 4 years. Instead she was to go downstairs and wait. Beatrice then informed a Sister of the Theatre of these instructions. The Sister countermanded the instructions, stating that there would be work to do in the Theatre as patients vomit or blood is spilled, at which times Beatrice would have to be easy to find. Beatrice was told to stay in her room as she had always done.

About two or three days later Dr. de Silva asked Beatrice where she was working, and when she replied that she was working in the Theatre, Dr. de Silva said that she must ask the supervisor of Will Shine to change her place of work. When Beatrice spoke of this conversation with the Sister in charge of the Theatre and other nurses they were of the opinion that this was harassment connected with Beatrice’s having come forward to bear witness against Dr. Sudarshana.

On December 26, as Beatrice was about to take her breakfast with two other workers in the room allocated to them, Dr. de Silva burst in, kicking open the door and shouting and threatening her:  “Beatrice did not I tell you to get a transfer to some other section? Are you staying here to fight with the Doctors? Are you staying here to watch what is happening around the hospital”?  Beatrice states that Dr. de Silva then kicked at the Dhal plate which was kept on the floor and went away saying “I will immediately call the medical superintendent”. After some time the medical superintendent came and asked Beatrice to clean the room and then move out of it. All those who witnessed this incident advised Beatrice to lodge a complaint about it at the police station. Consequently on the next day, December 27, Beatrice lodged a complaint at the Negombo police station–complaint no. 16/531/CIB III.

The next day when Beatrice came to work Will Shine supervisor Shanker told her to work in Ward No.5. When Beatrice inquired why this was he told her that “Madam (Dr. Inoka de Silva) is shouting at them to transfer her from the Surgical Theatre”. Beatrice worked in Ward No. 5 that day. On each of the next three days Beatrice was transferred through 3 different wards daily. On the 4th day she was told to work in Ward No.12. At that point Beatrice asked the supervisor “sir, what is the meaning of this?” and asked that she be given “a fixed place to work”. Supervisor Shanker than scolded her saying “I cannot do the way you want, if you cannot work you can go home”. Beatrice then went to the Negombo police station and told the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) what happened. The OIC made a note in a book and told her that it was not necessary to record a complaint about this incident.  He instructed her to go back and work in the Theatre and not to be afraid of anything”.

The next day Dr. de Silva was absent. However on the following day, having discovered that Beatrice was again working in the Theatre, the Doctor complained to supervisor Shankar once more. Supervisor Shankar then scolded Beatrice stronger than he had before, saying that she had become a terrible problem for him and asked her to resign. However Beatrice refused and went back to work in the Theatre.

Following this incident the OIC of the Negombo police came to meet the hospital medical superintendent Dr. Anton Tisera in his room. Beatrice was also called and the OIC asked her to tell them everything that Dr. de Silva had said and done to her. Beatrice told them everything. Dr. Anton Tisera then said “if madam wants, you have to move out of the theatre”. To this Beatrice replied that she had been working in the Theatre for 4 years, she had done nothing wrong and she didn’t understand why she was transferred from the Theatre.  Dr. Anton Tisera replied simply that “there need not be a wrong committed, if the madam says you have to move out”.  At this point in time Dr. de Silva walked into the room, and Beatrice was asked to leave while the three of them talked.  As Dr. de Silva left Beatrice was called in again. Dr. Anton reiterated that Beatrice would not be able to work in the Theatre as Madam did not like it, but suggested that Beatrice could work in any other ward of her choice. Beatrice told them that she was willing to work anywhere. Then Will Shine supervisor Shankar was called in and asked what ward might be given to Beatrice. Supervisor Shankar informed them that madam does not like Beatrice working anywhere in the new building. The OIC asked him why that was but supervisor Shankar did not answer. Dr. Anton Tisera then asked Beatrice to state her choice and Beatrice requested ward no. 2.

Beatrice worked in ward no. 2 from the January 1, 2008 to January 10 without any problems. At around 11am on January 11, Will Shine supervisor Chathuranga informed Beatrice that the doctors had had a meeting and he was instructed to remove her from the hospital. He also told her that if she did not believe him she could go and ask the medical superintendent. Beatrice went and met the medical superintendent who confirmed that Beatrice had to leave the hospital, explaining that if she continued to work the doctors would go on strike. 
Consequently Beatrice went to the Police Station to lodge another complaint (entry MCR 183/08 CI 45/247). Once again the OIC told her not to be afraid and to go back to work.  She was told that if the doctors went on strike it would be taken care of.

The next day Beatrice went to work where she was told by supervisor Chathuranga that the Will Shine authorities had asked him to see that she does not sign the duty book which indicates working time. Beatrice signed the book anyway stating that if she did not sign she would not be paid. She then waited outside the hospital and again signed the duty book as she left. Supervisor Chaturanga then told her that the boss will come tomorrow to transfer her and to be at the Will Shine office by 6:30am.

The next day on January 13, Beatrice went to the Will Shine office and waited until 10am, but no one came with regard to her transfer. When she told this to supervisor Chathuranga he told her that “their movements are uncertain, you go home, if they come I will tell them that you stayed till late and went home”. To date Beatrice has not heard from Will Shine. Beatrice is now unemployed.


Beatrice was employed by Will Shine Janitor Services Limited for 5 years, 4 of which she had worked as a janitor at the Surgical Theatre on the 7 floor of the Negombo Base Hospital.

Beatrice has appealed to a number of individuals regarding her situation through affidavits to the Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of labour and the Will Shine Company.


Even though the victim is a prime witness in a suspicious incident of murder where a doctor was alleged involved in her working place, the police have failed to provide full and effective security for her whilst she had been ill-treated by the hospital authorities and even removed from her workplace.

Due to the absence of law for witness protection in Sri Lanka, witnesses and victims in cases where government officials, including police, are alleged perpetrators are easily targeted for harassment, threat or even killed. The case of Gerald Perera, a torture victim killed by a man hired by police, is indicative. The former Attorney General of Sri Lanka, Mr. K.C. Kamalasabeyson pointed out the importance of witness protection (AS-187-2007). Please also see international criticism in this regard (AS-045-2007).

Please write letters to the relevant authorities urging them to properly investigate this case and take legal or disciplinary action against those responsible for the alleged harassment. Please also urge them to reinstate Beatrice at her work post and prevent her from further harassment.

The AHRC also writes letters 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: Witness of murder case allegedly harassed and removed from employment

Name of victim: Ms. Lekam Mohottige Beatrice (50); married with 3 children; residing at No.38/2, Horahena, Kimbulapitiya, Negombo 
Name of alleged perpetrators: authorities of the Negombo Base Hospital including Dr. Inoka de Silva and Will Shine Janitor Service Limited
Date of incident: since 12 November 2007
Place of incident: Negombo Base Hospital, Negombo

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the alleged harassment of a woman and the termination of her employment since she reported it to the Negombo police.

I have been informed that on November 12, 2007 Beatrice saw a person she later identified as a doctor at the Negombo Base Hospital dragging the body of a woman on a piece of card board along a corridor on the 6 floor of the hospital. According to her statements, the woman’s hair was dishevelled and her clothes exposed her breasts. Later that day the janitor learned that a girl had fallen from the 6 floor and died on the way to treatment in Colombo.

I have been informed that Beatrice was later asked to make a statement regarding what she saw by the Negombo Police and that she complied. From this period onward, authorities at Negombo Base Hospital including Dr. Inoka de Silva, have allegedly harassed Beatrice and instigated Will Shine Janitor Service Limited, where she had worked for 4 years, to transfer her from ward to ward and finally to terminate her employment.

The Negombo police have been constantly informed these harassments from Beatrice, however, they failed to effectively protect her from harassments or investigate those responsible for the harassments. If a witness or victim is not protected, there will be no one who will bravely come before and provide more information which helps to solve cases.

I therefore, urge you to make inquiries into these matters and to see that the appropriate legal and disciplinary steps are taken against those who were directly and indirectly responsible for harassing this individual at her workplace. The investigation has to include whether the reason of her termination from employment and discrimination were based on her activity to make a report to the police. I further urge that the victim has to be reinstated and provided with adequate security if she claims. I finally urge that there needs an adequate witness protection system which encourages a witness or victim to come forward to provide important information under the circumstances of providing full security for them.

Yours sincerely,



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

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

3. Mr. Neville Piyadigama
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers,
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867

4. Mr. C.R. De Silva
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
Fax: +94 11 2 436421

5. Commissioner of Labor
Labor Secretariat 
Colombo 5

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission ( 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-036-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Inhuman & degrading treatment, Legislation, Police negligence, Victims assistance & protection,