SRI LANKA: Police severely tortures brothers in custody; one now suffers from a psychological disorder


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-125-2008
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Right to health, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that two brothers were arbitrarily arrested on suspicion of being terrorists without any concrete evidence in the middle of April 2008 and allegedly tortured by the police. The police did not inform their relatives of the arrest. After suffering torture, one victim is showing signs of a psychological disorder. They remain in custody in separate police stations.

CASE DETAILS: (based on the interviews from the mother of the victim and the wife of the other victim)

Nanda Kumar, married with a child, was working as a security guard at the Tile Company at the Board of Investment (BOI) Balagolla, Kandy. At 5:30pm on April 17, while on the way to his work place he was arbitrarily arrested by officers attached to Kandy Police Station without a warrant. After arresting him, the officers took him to their police station and later transferred him to the Daulagala Police Station on April 26.

Nanda’s family members state that they have not been properly informed of his arrest by the police. Since he failed to return home, his relatives went searching for him. On April 20, when they went to the Teldeniya Police Station to make a statement, the police told them they did not have any information and instructed them to come back the following day. It was only on April 21, when they returned that they came to know that the police in Kandy had arrested Nanda and his brother Ramesh. They then proceeded to the Kandy Police Station on the same day.

However, when they arrived at that police station, an officer told them that the officer who had informed them of the brother’s arrest was not present at that time and they were told them to return the following day.

At 2pm that day, around 20 police officers from the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in Kandy arrived together with Nanda in two jeeps and other vehicles. They started searching his house for something and then searched his mother’s house as well, which is about a kilometer away. They conducted thorough searches of both properties without a warrant from a court and questioned his wife as to whether there were bombs or weapons in the house.

When they failed to find any evidence from the two houses, the police officers instead took all the receipts from a pawnshop that the family had kept when they pawned their jewelry in order to travel to Tamil Nadu, India, for a religious worship in January 2008. The police officers told the relatives of the victims to bring some clothes for Nanda and his brother, Ramesh, who has also been arrested.

Ramesh had been arbitrarily arrested at around 2:30pm on April 19 by around five police officers also attached to Kandy Police Station at a park in Aluthwatta in Digana town, Kandy. Ramesh is a three wheeler driver whom the police falsely accused of being a terrorist. The police took him to their police station and later transferred him to the Katugasthota Police Station on April 26.

On April 28, the police transferred Nanda to the Daulagala Police Station and on April 29, his relatives went to the police station with a police officer attached to Kandy Police Station. When the relatives met him, Nanda claimed that after being arrested, four or five police officers stripped of his clothes and that he was hung to a ceiling after his legs were bound with string. While he was hanging upside down, the police had him beaten all over his body for an hour while questioning him.

Nanda’s relatives visited him about 20 times there. The police, however, informed them that they could only visit him on Sundays and Wednesdays. Whenever a relative went to visit him they were prevented from talking in their own native language and a police officer always sits closely to monitor their conversation.

On May 16, the police produced Nanda and Ramesh before the Kandy Magistrate’s Court. Despite Nanda informing the Court that they had been tortured by the police, the Court did not take action to investigate their complaints of torture. After the court, the police then took Nanda to Daulagala Police Station and his brother Ramesh to the Katugasthota Police Station.

On June 1, when the relative went to Daulagala Police Station to see Nanda, he said that he asked for some medicine for his headache from the police but police said they would need permission from Kandy Police Station. There two officers told the relatives about Nanda’s health condition and told them that he was showing signs of a psychological disorder, stomach problems and fever. They also said that he often lost consciousness and is displaying strange behavior; for instance, sleeping naked; and could no longer remember what he was doing while in police custody.

At 10pm on May 27, Ramesh was again transferred back to the Kandy Police Station where he was allegedly beaten by around eight police officers. Ramesh said the police had the soles of his feet and his ears beaten with an iron bar. The police officers too, like his brother, stripped of his clothes naked. They, too, grab, pulled and hit his sex organ repeatedly with their hands causing him severe pain. The officer also pulled out his mustache and hair from his chest while questioning him.

On May 28, Ramesh’s relatives visited to police station but were not allowed to meet him and chased away by the police telling them: “bring the food and go”. When they went to the police station again on June 1, the police told them that he has already been transferred back to the Katugasthota Police Station.

When they reached the Katugasthota Police Station, they were told that they needed to secure permission from the Kandy Police Station first before seeing him, or wherever he was being held. His relatives also said that every time they come to the police station, the policemen too labeled them as terrorists. The police had also threatened them that they could also be arrested under the Emergency Regulation, including Ramesh’s two-year-old child.

Now the relatives of the victims are also being pressured to tell the policemen the truth that it is possible for Ramesh to transport bombs, guns or any weapons by his three-wheeler vehicle. The police also told them they would only allow a woman to see him in detention.

Please write letters to the authorities listed below urging them to investigate the continuing arbitrary arrest and detention of these brothers and for subsequently torturing them while in their custody. The victim must be released without delay if there is no concrete evidence to hold them for trial.

The AHRC has also written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calling for their urgent intervention in this case.

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


Dear ___________,

SRI LANKA: Police severely tortures brothers in custody; one now suffers from a psychological disorder

Details of victims: 
1. Nanda Kumar, 32 years old; married with a child; a security guard of Tile Company at Board of Investment (BOI) Balagolla, Kandy; arbitrarily arrested on 17 April 2008. He is presently detained at the Daulagala Police Station
2. Ramesh Kumar, 28 years old, he is the brother of Nanda; a three-wheeler driver. He was arbitrarily arrested on April 19. He is presently detained at the Katugasthota Police Station
Both the victims are residing at 654, Wijesirigama, Digana, Rajawella
Alleged perpetrators: Several policemen attached to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Kandy Police Station
Date of incident: Since 17 April 2008 until presently
Place of incident: Kandy Police Station, Kandy District I, Kandy Division, Central Range West

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention of two brothers who were allegedly tortured by the Kandy police following their arrest in separate incidents on April 17 and 19, 2008. They were arbitrarily arrested on suspicion of having a connection with terrorism.

On April 17, Nanda Kumar was arrested by Kandy police who held him in custody without informing his relatives. While in police custody, he was stripped naked and was severely beaten while he was suspended from the ceiling upside down by four or five police officer. He has been deprived of medical treatment and is now displaying strange behavior following the incident.

Two days later, on April 19, his brother, Ramesh, was also arbitrarily arrested from a park where he was working as a three-wheeler driver. On May 27, when he was in custody of the Kandy Police Station, eight police officers stripped him of his clothes naked, like what they did to his brother. They also had the soles of his feet and his ears beaten with iron bar. They also sexually humiliated him by pulling, hitting and grabbing his sex organ repeatedly.

I am informed that following the incident, Nanda has not been able to receive any medical treatment even though he has already shown strange behavior that I am concerned a result of psychological effect common to torture victims.

I am aware that the brother were brought before the Kandy Magistrate’s Court where they have been charged on May 16; however, the Magistrate did not take any action to investigate the allegations of torture despite Nanda having informed the court that they have been tortured while they were in police custody.

As you are aware, the act of torture or ill treatment cannot be justifiable under any circumstances such as emergency regulations or the situation of war by the Convention against Torture to which the Sri Lanka is a state party, as well as the CAT Act No. 22 of 1994. It is also the government responsibility to have allegations of torture promptly investigated and afford the victim with adequate treatment.

Accordingly, I therefore urge you to investigate promptly the allegation of torture by the victims, one of whom has already shown a psychological disorder, for them to obtain appropriate medical treatment they urgently require. Those responsible should be prosecuted without delay and punished according to law. In this regard, I urge you to consider this case under the CAT Act No. 22 of 1994 and to provide effective remedies for the victims.

I wish to remind you the fundamental rights as set out under the Constitution of Sri Lanka that a person should not be arrested without the concrete evidence and the person should be released as soon as possible if the police fail to prove that the crime had been committed over reasonable and concrete evidence. When a person is arrested, the police should have had a duty to inform their relatives of their arrest, of which the policemen deliberately did not in this case, which is completely unacceptable.

I trust you will take proper action in this case.

Yours sincerely,


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

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

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

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-125-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Right to health, Torture,