SRI LANKA: Police assault and falsely charged five men


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-124-2008
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Police violence, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that five men had been arbitrarily arrested and beaten by the Kataragama police on 1 May 2008. One of the victims was admitted to a hospital due to the injuries he suffered. The victims were also falsely charged but were later released from police custody on bail.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the testimony of one of the victim’s father)

On 1 May 2008, Wengappuli Arratchige Milan Chanaka, an army officer from the Army Commando Unit at Vavuniya, went to the Kataragama bus station in order to meet someone there on his motor cycle. He was on official leave at the time. On his way, a Woman Sub Inspector (WSI), crossed in front of him on the road on which he was travelling and prompted him to stop.

Before leaving for the bus station, Milan asked the said police officer, “Is that the way for you as a police officer to cross the road?” While he arrived at the station to meet his friend he saw the female police officer, who came later together with two other police officers, approached him. As they tried to take him to their police station without explaining the charge, he resisted, telling them “I am innocent” before he returned to his home.

Between 2pm to 3pm that day, 15 heavily armed police officers attached to Kataragama Police Station came to the house of Milan’s father, Wengappuli Aratchige Siripala. Out of the group, Siripala recognised two of them as Sub Inspector Amaradivakara and Sergeant Lalith.

As soon as the officers reached the house, they arrested his two sons, Milan and Gayan Chaminda, as well as three of Milan’s friends who were present at the time, once again without giving them any reason. They severely assaulted the group for about 20 minutes inside the house. When some of their neighbours saw them being assaulted, they tried to intervene and the police also assaulted them. Then, the officers dragged the brothers towards a road where they had parked their police jeep and forcibly put them into the vehicle.

The father, Siripala, went to the Kataragama Police Station where his two sons had been taken but he was not allowed to meet them. However, he was able to meet them later following the assistance of Sub Inspector Bandusiri, a police officer attached to Ambalanthota Police Station.

On May 2, all five arrestees were produced before the Thissamaharama Magistrate’s Court. The police filed charges against them for sexual harassment, attack on the police officer, obstruction of police duties and supposedly for being deserters. All of them were sent to the Tangalla prison. As the injuries of Milan and his brother Chaminda worsened while they were in prison, the prison officers sent them to Hambanthota Hospital for treatment on May 6.

On May 14 all of them were released on bail. Milan returned for duty to his army company on May 17. However, the following day, Milan was once again admitted to the Anuradhapura Hospital for two days.

Their relatives have already submitted a complaint to the concerned authorities, including the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), the Officer-in-Charge of the Kataragama Police Station, the National Police Commission (NPC) and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) on May 12. They have also sent their affidavits to the Chief Justice on May 22.

Despite filing their complaints no action has been taken on this case so far. After the incident, the relatives of the brothers claimed that the two were showing signs of psychological disorder since the assault. They are also worried that the charges the police filed against Milan may also affect his job.

Please write letters to the authorities listed below urging them to investigate the assault of the five men and the subsequent filing of false charges against them. The policemen responsible, particularly those who have been identified by the victims, must be held to account immediately. The charges filed should also be withdrawn without delay and appropriate treatment and rehabilitation afforded.

The AHRC has also written separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture calling for his intervention in this case.

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


Dear ___________,

SRI LANKA: Police assault and falsely charged five men

Name of victims: 
1. Wengappuli Arratchige Milan Chanaka, 26 years old; an army officer attached to the Army Commando Unit in Vavuniya
2. Milan’s brother, Gayan Chaminda, 28 years old. They are both residing in annexed house No.03, Kawanthissa Mawatha, Kataragama
3. Udaya Kumara 
4. K. A. Suranga Darshana
5. W.A. Samira Sanjeewa
Victims No. 3 to 5 are all friends of Milan. 
Name of alleged perpetrators: Around 15 officers, two of them were identified as Sub Inspector Amaradivakara and Sergeant Lalith, all are attached to Kataragama Police Station, Hambantota District II, Tangalle Division, Southern Range
Place of incident: At the residence of the victims.
Status of the case: Following their arrest on May 1, all the victims, including the brothers, had been falsely charged with sexual harassment, attack on police officers, obstruction of police duties and for being deserters.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the assault and subsequent filing of fabricated charges against five men after their arrest by officers attached to the Kataragama Police Station on 1 May 2008.

I have learned that prior to their arrest, one of the victims, Milan, was driving his motorcycle on his way to a bus station when a female police officer, Woman Sub Inspector (WSI), suddenly crossed his path prompting him to stop. Before leaving, he had made remark to the officer as to whether it was usually the manner that police officers cross road traffic.

When he arrived at the bus station, this female officer was already with two other policemen and tried taking him to their police station. He resisted telling them before he left that he had not committed any wrongdoings. However, when he was at the house of his father together with his three other friends, 15 police officers from the Kataragama Police Station came.

There, the police officers had him, his brother, Gayan Chaminda, and his friends, severely beaten. When their neighbours tried to intervene upon seeing them being beaten, the policemen too assaulted them. The beatings lasted for about 20 minutes before they took them to their police station.

I have learned that following their arrest, they were produced before Thissamaharama Magistrate’s Court on May 2 where the police had them falsely charged with the offenses mentioned above. While in Tangalla prison, the injuries suffered by the brothers had worsened prompting the prison officers to send them to the Hambanthota Hospital on May 6 for treatment. After Milan’s release on bail on May 14, he was once again admitted to the Anuradhapura Hospital for further treatment for two days before he return to his duty in the army.

I am shocked by the filing of false charges on them. As you are aware, there was no sufficient proof that the victims had indeed committed the offense they were charged with. Also Milan’s brother, Gayan Chaminda, and his three friends are also not been involved in any way; nor having even met the female police officer. Also, not all of the four other accused are members of the army; thus, to charge then for being deserters is highly questionable.

I therefore urge you to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted on this case; and that the charges filed on them must be withdrawn without further delay. Those responsible in assaulting, arresting and subsequently filing false charges against the five victims must be identified and held to account.

In this regard, I wish to remind you that under the Convention against Torture Act (CAT Act No. 22 of 1994), the use of torture is itself a criminal act. In addition, I urge you to consider the provisions of this Act in dealing with their case; and that afford all the victims what is due them. Also, I urge you to ensure that Milan should be able to return to his duty without being subjected to any forms of harassment.

I trust you will take necessary action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


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

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

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

4. The 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 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-124-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Police violence, Torture,