SRI LANKA: Innocent man fired on by Police at Meegalewa


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-110-2017
ISSUES: Administration of justice,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the extra-judicial attempt to kill Mr. Sarath Kumara Yapa, a resident of Meegalewa in the Anuradhapura District. On 24 July 2017, Sarath was waiting on the road, in front of the Lassanagama Buddhist Temple at Meegalewa Police Division. Unexpectedly, several police officers approached him and directly shot at him. He was taken to the Meegalewa Hospital. Considering his life threatening situation and need for emergency treatment, he was transferred a second time to a different facility-the Anuradhappura Teaching Hospital. No investigation has yet been carried out regarding the attempt on his life. The Police claim they were in the process of arresting Sarath.


The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information about Mr. Sarath Kumara Yapa, a resident of Meegalewa in Anuradhapura District. Sarath was born at Wekadawala, Weeraketiya in Hambantota District.

At 7 p.m. on 24 July 2017, Sarath was waiting on the main road, in front of the Lassanagama Buddhist Temple. Without warning several Police Officers appeared in front of him, took aim and directly fired at him. Sarath’s lower abdomen was hit and he fell to the ground. Later he was brought by police jeep and admitted to the Meegalewa Government Hospital for emergency treatment. The hospital authorities immediately transferred him to the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital to continue with more sophisticated management.

Before the shooting, Sarath was not aware that the police officers were going to shoot him or arrest him. He was not ordered to obey any of their orders. Sarath did not know of any reasons why the Police would abruptly, without warning, directly shoot at him. He was not given any reason for his arrest or shown an arrest warrant made out against him. Police failed to produce any evidence that they tried to arrest him in a peaceful manner. Sarath respectfully states that he never tried to escape from being arrested by the Police. Police never warned him that they would open fire on him. Police never informed him or let him know that he was engaged in committing any crime.

After the incident took place, a Police Communiqué was issued, stating that Sarath was waiting for an opportunity to steal a golden Buddhist statue. As Police tried to arrest him, Sarath escaped. They never produced any independent evidence of a legally issued arrest warrant against him. No facts were submitted showing that Sarath tried to run away and prevent the officers from arresting him. 
Sarath’s family members maintain that the Police attempted to extra-judicially kill their relative. This is another indication of the faulty Policing System in Sri Lanka. It extra-judicially kills innocent suspects under the guise of crime prevention.


The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported numerous cases of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and extra-judicial killings of citizens at the hands of the Sri Lankan police. Under international and local law, these are illegal actions. They have been taking place daily at police stations all over Sri Lanka. It is common knowledge that the Police use torture as an instrument to terrorize innocent people, harass the general public and instill fear. Presently, the Police are implementing a policy of ‘elimination with extreme persuasion’ or in plain language–murdering suspected criminals. They arrest and kill people without their ever being produced in a Court of Law.

Needless to say, there is a lack of protection for those lawyers willing to take up cases against abusive Police Officers and State Authorities. This means that the Law continues to be employed as a tool by the authorities to control the population. By undermining society’s respect for the Law and allowing impunity to go on unabated, a long-term, psychological and financial burden is placed on the shoulders of victims, their families and society in general.


Please write to the Authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Kindly request an immediate investigation into allegations of an attempted extra-judicial killing by the Police. Prosecution of those proven to be responsible under Criminal Law is imperative. The officers involved should also be subject to an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders. The AHRC will write a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in this regard.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-110-2017
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Administration of justice,