SRI LANKA: Yet again Polpithigama Police torture an innocent man, and concoct a fabricated charge


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-048-2017
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Fabrication of charges, Impunity, Police violence, Right to redress, Right to remedy, Rule of law,

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding the arrest, detention and torture of Mr. D V Jeevan Kumara Gunasinghe from Thambuwa, Ma-Eliya in the Kurunegala District. On 2nd January 2017, he has been illegally arrested, detained, tortured and brought to the Polpithigama Police Station after failing to assist the police obtain information regarding the brewing of illicit liquor in the area. He claims that he was arrested and tortured without a reason, and as revenge for failing to collude and assist the police. He was later produced before the Mahawa Magistrate’s Court on a fabricated charge. The victim states that police acted arbitrarily outside their powers, violating the law. He states further, that despite repeated complaints to relevant authorities, including senior police officers they have all turned a blind eye, in order to protect the police officer involved in the act of illegal arrest and torture.

Case Narrative:

D V Jeevan Kumara Gunasinghe from Thambuwa, is 32 years old and a resident of Ma-Eliya in the Kurunegala District, he is planning to be married in October this year (2017) . He earns his living as a sculptor and specializes in sculpting and carving of Buddha statues and other Buddhist historical statues, and he has been involved in this vocation for the past 15 years.

On 2nd January 2017, around 8.30 – 9 p.m. Jeevan was at his friend Kumaradasa’s home in Thambuwa, Ma-Eliya in the Kurunegala District when suddenly, they noticed an unknown person entering their house. Both Kumaradasa’s house and Jeevan’s houses are situated in close proximity in the village. When Kumaradasa, his friend, had accosted the stranger and inquired about his identity, he had informed them that he is a police officer attached to the Polpithigama Police Station.

He had told them that he is there investigating illicit liquor breweries in the area and that he had received a tip-off from a personal source that there is such illegal activity being carried out in that location. Kumaradasa had assured the police officer that there were no such persons or illegal liquor brewing taking place at his home and that he does not engage in such illegal activities. The officer was not satisfied with this response and therefore had approached Jeevan and questioned him too, asking him why he is at Kumaradasa’s place. Jeevan had indicated to the police officer that he lives nearby and that he is visiting his good friend at the time. The officer being clearly unsatisfied with these answers had approached Jeevan and accused him of being under the influence of liquor. Jeevan had vehemently denied the accusations and informed the officer that he never consumes alcohol. The officer had then started to assault Jeevan and beat him with his hands, and fists – hitting him on his face and shoulder many times. The officer had informed them that he is arresting Jeevan, he was immediately put in hand cuffs and brought on his motorbike to the Polpithigama Police Station and detained in a holding cell.

During the night, Jeevan’s brother D V Susantha had come to the police station, along with another neighbour Sanjeewa bringing him food and drinks. At the time, Jeevan was in pain inside the cell due to the torture he suffered at the hands of the said police officer. When his brother and the neighbour visited him, he explained to them about how he was tortured him by the police officer.

Next day, the police brought him to the Mahawa Magistrate’s Court and produced him before the Magistrate on a false charge for the possession on a bottle of illicit liquor. But Jeevan vehemently denied the charge in Court. Before he was produced before the magistrate, the police officers insisted upon him to plead guilty for the charge and promised him that if he did, he would be released from the charge by imposing a small amount as a fine. However, Jeevan openly denied the charge in the court. When the magistrate questioned him whether he is guilty of the charge, Jeevan openly told the Magistrate that he is innocent upon which the Magistrate had granted bail and postponed the hearing of the case till 4th September 2017.

After coming home, Jeevan made a complaint to the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) against the violation of his rights by the said police officer and had requested for an impartial, independent, efficient and a prompt investigation into this incident where his rights were grossly violated by the officer attached to the Polpithigama Police. Following the complaint, on several occasions teams of police officers had visited Jeevan’s home and recorded statements from Jeevan, his brother D V Susantha and his neighbour Sanjeewa. However, even after several months following the incident, to date, no action whatsoever has been taken against the police officer.

Jeevan states that that he was illegally arrested, detained and produced before the Courts under fabricated charges concocted by the Police to cover up their illegal acts of arrest , torture and detention of an innocent person disregarding his rights as a citizen. He further states that as he was not co-operating with the police officer when he was questioned at Kumaradasa’s house, this had angered the officer and he arrested him, and maliciously prosecuted him, merely to take revenge. He states that police officer attached to the Polpithigama Police, violated his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Sri Lanka and HE SEEKS JUSTICE.

Suggested Action:

Please send letters to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Request an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, detaining, torturing and the filing of fabricated charges by the Police. Those proven to be responsible under criminal law for misusing the powers of the State should be prosecuted. All officers involved must be scrutinized by an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders. Finally, please appeal to the National Police Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police for a special investigation into the malpractice of police officers who abuse their powers.