SRI LANKA: Young boy severely assaulted by deputy principal


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-089-2008
ISSUES: Child rights, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Police negligence, Sexual violence,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that a young boy was severely assaulted by the deputy Principal in Galle on 27 March 2008. As a result of this punishment, he was admitted to a hospital for treatment. 

CASE DETAILS: (based on the testimony of Uspatabandige Tharindu Ishan Gunasekara (11) and his father Uspatabadige Jayantha Gunasekara)

On 27 March 2008, during the 5th school period there was no teacher in Tharindu’s class. The boys were restless. A boy sitting a little away from Tharindu had aimed and hit him with a rubber band. Tharindu in return hit the boy.

The Deputy Principal Ariyavansa who was passing saw this incident. He caught Tharindu by the scruff of his neck and dragged him out of the classroom to the play ground and started to assault him. He assaulted the boy with his feet; trampling and kicking the boy with the heavy soles of his shoes. He also assaulted the boy’s spine and left arm with the pole he carried. The boy shouted in pain, pleading and crying not to hit him. The pole broke into two and then Ariyavansa scolded and shouted at the boy to go to the Principal’s office.

The frightened boy ran to the Principal’s office. The Principal was in his room and Ariyavansa who followed the boy now took a pole from the stack of poles kept in the Principal’s office and started to again assault the boy. He lashed at the boy’s spine. The pole was again broken due to the severity of the assault. Ariyavansa chose another pole and again lashed at the boy. This pole was also broken. Again he took another pole and assaulted the now wailing boy. At this point the Principal Mr. Ceril Godage encouraged Ariyavansa to hit the boy some more, saying “give the fellow another three of four good shots. They are all thieves. His whole family is the same”. The boy was continued to be assaulted and after that chased to his class by Ariyavansa. Before the boy went to his class, the Principal forced the boy to write on a book that he went with his brother Buddhi to steal from houses.

Tharindu went to his class. There was still no teacher in his class. Tharindu kept his head on the desk and closed his eyes tightly in an effort to bear the pain in his body.

A little later Ariyavansa came to the class and seeing the boy with his head bent on the desk, shouted at the boy to get in front of the class room and raise and keep his hand on the blackboard. Ariyavansa got a cane and started to beat the boy in a most inhuman manner. He caned the boy on his legs his back, spine and shoulders and then left the classroom.

The boy thoroughly humiliated in front of his class mates went back to his desk, struggling to keep away the tears of pain that sprang into his eyes. Due to this continued assault, his left arm began to swell. When the sixth class period began, Thrarindu was in no fit state to follow the class due to the pain in his body and he continued to keep his head down on the desk. During this period too Ariyavansa came to the class and shouted at the boy to come to him.

He took the boy outside the class and viscously squeezed his swollen arm. The boy screamed in pain. Then he took the boy to a tap that was nearby and wetting his handkerchief began to ferment the swollen ligament. The boy bore the pain silently. Then he chased the boy back to class.

During the next two class periods the boy kept his head down on the desk. At one point his class teacher Miss Gangani had come into the class and observing that the boy was in pain had gone and got some oil and rubbed it on the boy’s arm.

At the end of school, the pain had become worse the boy could hardly walk home. He asked his younger brother to carry his bag and dragged himself home.

Tharindu told his parents what had happened to him. His father immediately took him to the Meetiyagoda Police Station. Statements were recorded from Tharindu and his father and they were told to admit the boy to the hospital. The boy was admitted to the Balapitiya hospital for treatment. The boy told the doctors who examined him that the Deputy Principal Ariyavansa had assaulted him. The next day he was discharged but the boy had to wait in the hospital for three more days till he was examined by the Judicial Medical officer (JMO). On March 31 he was examined by the JMO and discharged.

Meanwhile, Tharindu’s father made a written complaint about the incident to the Regional Director of Education, Department of Education in Galle, Chairperson of Child Protection Bureau and Women and Children’s Bureau and Human Rights Commission on March 29.


Physically brutalising children and causing them serious injuries is a clear violation of education department regulations, fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution as well as the criminal law of Sri Lanka. Namely, such an act is in violation of:

1. Circular No. ED/01/12/01/04/24, issued by the Education Department on 11 May 2005 to all local schools, prohibiting the use of corporal punishment on school children in Sri Lanka.

2. Article 11 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, which states that everyone has the rights not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment or punishment.

3. Section 308A (1) of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka which explicitly prevents the cruelty to children. Accordingly, whoever commits the offence of cruelty to children shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not less than 2 years and not exceeding 10 years and may also punished with fine and ordered to pay compensation of an amount determined by the court.

It is also a violation of Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC), to which Sri Lanka is a state party.

However, as the AHRC has reported numerous appeals relating to corporal punishment and other forms of ill treatment of school children by their teachers and principals (See further UA-290-2007, UA-276-2007, UA-268-2007, UA-245-2007, UA-236-2007, UA-208-2007, UA-141-2007, UA-095-2007 and UA-360-2006), it happens in practice. It is also rarely reported any disciplinary or legal action has been taken against those responsible. If the victims lodge complaints against the alleged perpetrators, the children’s education is often denied due to the action. (See further UA-236-2007, UA-187-2007 and UA-126-2006)

Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and request them to investigate this case and take immediate disciplinary action against those responsible.

Please be informed that the AHRC has also written 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: Young boy severely assaulted by deputy principal

Name of victim: Uspatabandige Tharindu Ishan Gunasekara (11) student of Nindana Maha Vithiyalaya Ambalangoda Galle 
Name of alleged perpetrators: Principal Ceril Godage and Deputy Principal Ariyavansha of the Nindana Maha Vithiyalaya Ambalangoda Galle 
Date of incident: 27 March 2008
Place of incident: Nindana Maha Vithiyalaya Ambalangoda Galle

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the severe assault of an 11-year-old school boy by the Principal and Deputy Principal of Nindana Maha Vithiyalaya Ambalangoda Galle on 27 March 2008.

According to the information I have received the boy was caught in a prank during a school period where the teacher was absent. The Deputy Principal Mr. Ariyawansa who saw the incident shoved the boy to the middle of the school playing field where he hit the boy with the pole he carried, kicked and trampled him with the heavy soles of his boots and then chased him to the Principals office.

At the Principal’s office again the boy was assaulted by the Deputy Principal. This time the boy was beaten with a pole till the pole broke and like this three poles were used to assault him. I am informed that a set of poles are kept in the Principal’s office for this purpose. I am informed that when the boy was being assaulted the Principal had come out of his room and encouraged and instigated the Deputy Principal to beat the boy more saying that ‘his family is a family of thieves and that the whole family is alike.’ The Principal had also forced the boy to write on a paper that ‘he went to steal with his brother from houses’. The boy had been then chased to class.

However after a little while the Deputy Principal had again come to the class and calling up the boy to the front of the class had asked him to turn his back to the class and keep his hands on the black board. Then he had canned the boy in an inhuman manner and left the class.

Again after some time the Deputy Principal had come and called the boy out of the class and observing his swollen arm which was a result of the assault, had viscously squeezed it. The boy had screamed in pain. Then he took the boy to a tap that was nearby and wetting his handkerchief began to ferment the swollen ligament after which he chased the boy back to class.

I am aware that the boy was admitted to the Balapitiya hospital where the Judicial Medical Officer examined him on March 31. I am also aware that on March 27 the boy’s father Uspatabadige Jayantha Gunasekara lodged a complaint at the Meetiyagoda Police Station about the incident. Meanwhile, his father made a written complaint about the incident to other relevant authorities on March 29.

Accordingly I urge you to make an inquiry into this incident and take legal or departmental action according to law, if proven guilty. In this regard, I wish to remind you the section 308A (1) of the Penal Code which explicitly prevents the cruelty to children and explains description of punishment to the offenders.

Yours sincerely,



1. Chairperson
National Child Protection Authority 
330, Thalawathgoda Road 
Tel: +94 11 2 778 912/13/14 
Fax: +94 11 2 778 975

2. Hon. A D S Premajayantha
Minister of Education 
Ministry of Education
‘Isurupaya’, Pelawatte,
Battaramulla, Colombo
Tel: +94 11 2 784 832
Fax: +94 11 2 784 825

3. Chairperson
OIC Women and Children’s Bureau
25, Yst Building Srimath Baronthilake Mawatha
Colombo 01

4. Director Provincial Education 
No 76, Ananda Kumaraswamy Mawatha
Colombo 07
Tel: +94 11 2 693 893 / 11 2 693 895

5. Director Education
Ministry of Education Southern Province 

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

7. 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 

8. Bo Viktor Nylun
Head of Child Protection
UNICEF Sri Lanka
P.O. Box 143, Colombo
Tel: +94 11 2 555 270 (6 lines)
Fax: +94 11 2 551 333

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-089-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Child rights, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Police negligence, Sexual violence,