SRI LANKA: Police continuously detain and torture a man arrested without charge


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-130-2008
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a man has been continuously detained without any charge after having been illegally arrested on 31 May 2008. The victim, who is presently detained at the Theldeniya Police Station, was arrested on the pretext that he had connections with a terrorist group but the police detaining him do not have any evidence.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the testimony from the victim’s sister and mother)

Sometime during the months of April this year, four police officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in Colombo went to a house where the relatives of the victim, Solomons Caspas Poul, were residing. The officers asked his relatives of his whereabouts as they were searching for him and they told them that Poul was staying with his wife in Nawalapitiya. The police left shortly after.

At 9pm on 30 May 2008, six police officers attached to the Theldeniya Police Station, three of them were wearing plain clothes, once again came back asking Poul’s sister and his mother of his whereabouts. Once again they told the policemen of where he was staying.

At 7am the following morning Poul’s sister received a phone call from his wife telling her that the police had arrested Poul at 2am that morning but she did not know where he had been taken. Then at 4pm, Poul’s wife called again to say that he was being held at the Nawalapitiya Police Station. They were then asked to go and see him there.

At 8:30am on June 1, Poul’s sister and his younger brother went to the Nawalapitiya Police Station. However, the police officers did not allow them to speak with him. When his sister asked a police officer whether he would be transferred to another place, she was told he would be transferred to the Theldeniya Police Station in two hours.

At 11:30am, three officers attached to the Theldeniya Police Station arrived and took him from the custody of the Nawalapitiya police to their station on a public bus. The victim’s relatives took the same bus, but when a police officer recognised them, he confiscated the mobile phone of Poul’s sister, telling her that he would return it once the bus reached the town of Kandy, which he did. Poul told his sister to come to the station to see him.

At 2:30pm, when Poul’s sister and mother went to the Theldeniya Police Station, he told them that he had been beaten by policemen attached to the Nawalapitiya Police Station whilst he was in their custody. They had beaten him on the head and on his hands for about an hour with a police baton and some plastic material. When Poul said he was in pain, his sister gave him some painkillers and medicinal oil.

Upon learning of her brother’s experience while he was in the custody of the Nawalapitiya police, she asked the policemen at the Theldeniya Police Station not to beat him, to which they have agreed. They also claimed that they did not beat prisoners in their police station. Getting this response, his sister and mother gave his some food and went home at around 5:30pm.

At 8am on June 2, when his sister and mother went back to the police station, they saw Poul being subjected to questioning by a police officer inside a room. When they were able to speak with him Poul was crying. He told them to look after his wife who was eight months pregnant as he had been told he would not be release for three or four months.

A police officer, who was wearing plain clothes and one of those who were questioning the victim, asked the victim’s sister to come and see him to another room inside the said police station. There, there were three men who had asked her whether she also had any involvement in “terrorist” activities. When she denied it, they pressured her to say something relevant about the said activities.

This time, the police officer told her that the reason why they arrested her brother was that he had been to Kilinochchi, in the northern part of Sri Lanka, sometime in 2003 together with his friends. Though the police claimed that they knew Poul was knowledgeable about firearms and that he is supposed to have been involved in terrorism, they could not provide any credible evidence nor substantiate the allegations.

After the questioning was completed, his sister asked Poul about the allegations the police have made against him and he told her that he went there only to visit the relatives of his friends. He also said that he only stayed there only for three days. He told his sister that at that point in time he had not been beaten by the policemen at that station. She gave him some food and medicine before leaving.

When the victim was visited again at the police station on June 3 by his relatives at around 8am, they saw him lying on the floor half naked. When his sister tried calling him, he could not talk properly prompting them to ask him what had happened. The victim made the following statement:

“At 2am today (June 3), around 6 persons in civil clothes having been drunken beat me and tied up my legs and hang me on the ceiling. Then, they tied up my hands as well and severely beat me for about 2 hours. They especially hit my head, arm, heap and the sole of my feet. I can’t move my left arm due to the assault”.

Poul could no longer walk properly. Later his sister gave him some food and medicine but he could not eat it by himself because of the severity of his injuries. Then, his sister informed a police officer, whom they have identified as Dissanayake, about the incident.

When asked by the said officer, Poul told him that he had been tortured, but the police nevertheless ignored him saying that they had never tortured him. He instead gave his name card to the victim’s sister telling her of his brother: “Poul has a weapon, ask him to hand over the weapon to the police. If there is any information regarding the weapon, immediately contact me”.

When asked whether they would be releasing Poul or taking him to a court, the same police officer told her: “at the moment, we will neither bring him to the court nor release him. We will keep him for further investigation.” After learning this, her sister had to ask this police officer again not torture her brother anymore.

Poul’s sister later asked him whether he had any weapon and he told her he was not aware of what the police are accusing him of. He told her that the police had been putting pressure on him to admit that he had weapon and that he has had connection with the terrorists.

Please write letters to the authorities below urging them to ensure that the victim is immediately released from the police custody promptly since they have not been able to file any charges against him. They, too, must ensure that an effective investigation is conducted by appropriate authorities regarding the victim’s allegations of torture and to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.

The AHRC has also written separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and the 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 continuously detain and torture a man arrested without charge

Name of victim: Solomons Caspas Poul, 33 years old; resident of No. 77, Ambakotte, Kengalle, Kandy.
Alleged perpetrators: Several police officers attached to the Nawalapitiya Police Station, Gampola District II, Gampola Division, Central Range (West) and Theldeniya Police Station, Theldeniya District, Kandy Division, Central Range (West)
Status of his case: He was illegally arrested and beaten following his arrest by the Nawalapitiya police on 31 May 2008. After he was transferred to the Theldeniya police, he was once again severely tortured in their custody on June 3. He is presently detained at the latter’s police station.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the continued detention of a man whom the police illegally arrested and severely tortured while in custody.

The victim, whose name in mentioned above, was first arrested at dawn on May 31 by policemen attached to the Nawalapitiya Police Station. Before he was turned over to another police station, the Theldeniya Police Station, he had already been beaten by policemen there with their batons following his arrest.

On June 1, he was transferred to the Theldeniya police, where he is presently detained, but two days later they had him severely tortured while in custody. On June 3, about six policemen, who were allegedly drunk at the time, had his legs tied and suspended him from a ceiling. They beat him all over his body while in that position. The soles of his feet were also beaten for about two hours.

The victim has since been continuously illegally detained at the police station following his arrest and has not been charged in court. Though the police claimed that he could have known how to use weapons and been trained by a terrorist group following his visit to Kilinochchi, northern Sri Lanka sometime in 2003; however this allegations itself remained not been substantiated by the police. In fact, the police had tortured him to force him into admitting what the police were accusing him of.

I have learned that Poul’s visit to Kilinochchi had nothing to do with any terrorist activities; nor training of any sort by any terrorist groups, according to the victim’s relatives. At the time he travelled with his friends to visit the latter’s relatives. Even so, I failed to comprehend that for him to visit the said place could have result to a commission of a crime. And, if indeed a crime had been committed, then the police should have been able to file charges on him in court, which they never did. Apart from that, when the police arrested the victim, they too had conducted search in his house without any court orders.

Therefore, I urge you to ensure that the victim is immediately released from the police custody. An effective investigation into the allegation of torture by police officers attached to the Nawalapitiya and Theldeniya Police Station respectively, must also be investigated. I also urge you to provide immediate medical treatment for the injuries the victim had suffered and to ensure that his family is allowed access on him while he remains in detention without any hindrance.

It disappointing that the police had been able to illegally arrest and to subsequently torture the victim though the crime he was alleged to committed remains not been substantiated by the police. In this regard, I finally call upon you to take necessary action against those who had violated the victim’s rights to due process enshrined under the Criminal Procedure Code.

I trust you will take necessary action in this matter.

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-130-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Torture,