The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information of another alleged police murder of a man, just 26 days after the murder of the torture victim, Gerald Perera, who died on November 24 after being shot by an unknown person with alleged links to the torture perpetrators.
According to the information we have received, a 59-year-old man named Ranson Peiris, died on 6 December 2004 due to serious injuries sustained from brutal torture by two sergeants of the Moratuwa police on the previous day. It is reported that Moratuwa Police gave a false statement to the hospital saying that they found the victim by the roadside. Additionally, a crucial eye witness of the victim’s assault has been given undue pressure by Moratuwa Police.
It is significant that this incident occurred while no person has been arrested regarding the case of Gerald Perera. During the last couple of years, the AHRC has raised its voice on the common practice of torture at police stations in Sri Lanka and has urged the government to take genuine action to put an end such brutal violence. However, torture victims have repeatedly encountered inaction by the government. The result is cruel. The government’s inaction helps to ensure the impunity of torture perpetrators, and in fact encourages them to commit such crimes against ordinary citizens in Sri Lanka.
We call on you to write a letter to the Sri Lankan government urging that a thorough and impartial investigation be conducted into this incident, and full protection be provided to the witnesses and the victim’s family. Please also urge the relevant authorities to take strong disciplinary/legal action against responsible police officers.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Name of the victim: Mr M. Ranson Peiris, a 59-year-old carpenter, married with 7 children
Address of the victim: No. 30, Gnanaloka Mawatha, Egodauyana, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
1. Sergeant Silva of the Moratuwa Police Station (Court sergeant at the Moratuwa Magistrate Court)
2. Sergeant Jayantha Perera of the Moratuwa Police Station
Date of illegal arrest and torture: 5 December 2004
Date of death: 6 December 2004
On 5 December 2004 at around 2 p.m., a 59-year-old carpenter, Mr M. Ranson Peiris, went to Mrs. Malani’s house to have a drink. Two sergeants, Mr Silva and Mr Jayantha Perera of the Moratuwa Police Station were already present there. For no apparent reason, these two police began to assault Mr Peiris brutally and took him to the Moratuwa Police Station in a three-wheeler by which they had come to the house. They then severely assaulted Mr. Peiris again at the police station.
Mr Dhammika Chandranath Fernando, the Deputy Mayor of the Moratuwa Municipal Council, informed the victim’s family of his arrest. He then inquired the Moratuwa police about the victim’s arrest, but they told him that such a person had not been brought into their custody. However, some time later when Mr Peiris’s relatives went to the Moratuwa Police Station, they saw that the victim was lying in the police cell. As he looked severely injured, the relatives asked the police to take him to the hospital to receive medical treatment. However, the Moratuwa police refused to do so.
At 10:00 pm on the same day (December 5), the Moratuwa Police took the victim to the Lunawa Government Hospital without informing his family of this. They allegedly gave a false statement to the hospital that they found the victim on the roadside. As Mr. Peiris was in a critical condition, he was transferred to the Kalubovila General Hospital and later to National Hospital Colombo. However, he succumbed to his injuries at around 11:30 a.m. on the following day (December 6).
A post-mortem on the victim’s body was conducted by Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) from the Colombo General Hospital. In his report, the JMO declared that Mr. Peiris had been assaulted by blunt weapons. He found nine external injuries on the vcitm’s body and damage of his thyroid glands due to the assault on his neck. The JMO concluded that the victim’s death was caused by the rupture of blood vessels of his brain. The
Moratuwa Magistrate Courthas begun an inquest into Mr. Peiris’s death (Case No. 6741NS/2004).
In the meantime, Mrs. Malani, who witnessed the victim’s assault and illegal arrest by two sergeants at her house, gave her statement to the Mt. Lavinia Police and theMoratuwa Magistrate Court. However, none of the Mt. Lavinia Police were present for two days while the magisterial inquest was being held. The next inquest is scheduled for 16 December 2004.
According to the latest information, the two accused police sergeants have not been arrested. In particular, Sergeant Silva continues his service as a court sergeant at theMoratuwa Magistrate Court, where the inquest of the case is going on. More seriously, it is alleged that the Moratuwa police have been pressuring Mrs. Malani, a crucial eye-witness of the case, not to give a statement against the two police sergeants.
The villagers informed this incident to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka on December 8, and the victim’s son also lodged a complained to the NHRC on December 13. However, the HRC officer, who received the complaint, told the son that they needed the post-mortem report to start the investigation. In fact, it is difficult for ordinary citizens in Sri Lanka to obtain post-mortem reports. In many cases, the post-mortem reports are not open to the public, even to the family of the victims. So far, no serious action has been taken by the HRC of Sri Lanka into this case.
The AHRC strongly urges the Sri Lankan government to immediately inquire into this case and arrest/prosecute the responsible police officers. The government must provide protection to the victim’s family and witnesses and immediately suspend the alleged perpetrators in order to ensure their security. The Sri Lankan Government must fulfill its international obligation by introducing effective and realistic legislative measures for witness protection. Only in this way, the Sri Lankan government will be able to regain the trust and confidence of the people.
Please send a letter, fax or an email to the addresses below and ask them to take immediate action into this case.
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RE: SRI LANKA: Another alleged police murder of a man by the Moratuwa police
Name of the victim: M. Ranson Peiris, 59 years old, carpenter, married with 7 children
Address of the victim: No. 30, Gnanaloka Mawatha, Egodauyana, Moratuwa
Alleged perpetrators: 1) Sergeant Silva, Moratuwa Police Station (Court sergeant at Moratuwa Magistrate Court)
2) Sergeant Jayantha Perera, Moratuwa Police Station
Date of incident: 5 December 2004
I am grieved to hear of the custodial death of Mr. M. Ranson Peiris (59) on 6 December 2004 after his illegal arrest and torture by two sergeants of the Moratuwa Police Station on the previous day (December 5).
I am shocked to learn that the Moratuwa police did not provide any medical treatment to the victim, who was in a very critical condition, despite his relatives’ earnest request. Though the police later took him to the the Lunawa Government Hospital, he succumbed to his injuries which he had sustained from brutal torture on the morning of December 6. In his post-mortem report, the Judicial Medial Officer (JMO) declared that Mr. Peiris had been assaulted by blunt weapons.
I am also informed that the police are attempting to cover up the case by pressuring an important eye witness, Mrs. Malani, not to give a statement against the accused police officers. The police also allegedly gave a false statement to the hospital that they found the victim on the roadside.
It is significant that this incident occurred while no person has been arrested regarding the case of Gerald Perera who died on November 24, after being shot by an unknown person who allegedly linked to the accused police officers three days before. I am deeply concerned that the government’s inaction on violence by state officers has helped to encourage perpetrators to continue such crimes with impunity against ordinary citizens in Sri Lanka.
I strongly urge you to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into this case and bring those responsible police officers to justice. I also urge you to provide full protection to Mrs. Malani and the victim’s family, and immediately suspend the accused police officers while the investigation is being conducted. Finally, appropriate compensation should be given to the victim’s family as well.
Again, I urge the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its international obligation by introducing effective and realistic legislative measures for witness protection, and take genuine steps to bring about the implementation of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) Act, which was ratified and accepted as domestic law.
Please also send a copy of the letter to:
1.Mr. Mahindra Rajapakse
Galle Road, Colombo03
Tel: +94 11 2 543938-42 / 437676
Fax: +94 11 2 384916
2. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan
Attorney General’s Department
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Mr. Chandra Fernando
Inspector General of Police (IGP)
Fax: +94 11 2 440440/327877
4. Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya PC
National Police Commission
69-1 Ward Place, Colombo 7
Fax: +94 11 2 669 528
Fax HOME: +94 11 2 674148
5. Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
6. Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr. Safir Syed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (general)
Urgent Appeals Program
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)