SRI LANKA: No investigation into alleged sexual abuse of a five-year-old girl


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-258-2007
ISSUES: Child rights, Sexual violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you regarding the continued inaction of the police into the alleged sexual abuse of a five-year-old girl by her father. The girl’s grandmother filed a complaint at the Panwila police station in Kandy on 18 June 2007, but they have done nothing to investigate it. The girl has already given a statement to them and recorded the injuries she suffered.

CASE DETAILS(According to the girl’s grandmother)

Five-year-old girl Ms. Y (name withheld) is a preschool pupil born on 1 March 2002. When her mother went to Cyprus in August 2006, she was left in her father’s custody, Mohamed Hanifa Thawfek, who is living with his sister in Panwila, Kandy District.

According to the girl’s grandmother, Helena Hettiarchchi, Mohamed allegedly started abusing her granddaughter sometime in April until June 2007. Mohamed allegedly usually abuse her at nighttime. However, it was only in early August when the sexual abuse was discovered when Y told her Aunt. Upon learning that the girl has already told her relatives, her father took her to her uncle living in Nuwara-Eliya.

On July 16, Helena went to the place to see her granddaughter in Nuwara-Eliya. Upon hearing the story from the girl that she had been abused by her father, she took Y to the Nuwara-Eliya police station to file a complaint. However, the police officers told them to file a complaint at Kandy police station instead. The following day, July 17, they went to Kandy police but the police officers once again told them file their complaint to another police station, the Panwila police station.

On July 18, Helena and the girl went to the Panwila police to file a complaint. Upon arrival at the Panwila police station, the police officers took the girl to a nearby hospital. On July 19, she was transferred to Kandy General Hospital where she was confined until July 24. After she was discharged from the hospital, Helena took her back to the Panwila police station who earlier requested her to bring the girl back. At the police station, the girl made a detailed testimony regarding the sexual abuse on her that the police officers recorded. They also recorded the injuries she had suffered.

It is reported that the police have allegedly done nothing to investigate the complaint following the girl giving her testimony. They allegedly did not take any further action; for instance, to arrest or summon her father to answer the allegations against him.

Helena revealed that the girl had been severely traumatized by the abuse. Often, she cries at night and has hallucinations, shouting at her father begging him not to abuse her. The girl is now under Helena’s care in Kandy.


The AHRC has recently reported yet another case in which the police have allegedly done nothing to investigate a complaint. As described in our previous appeal (UA-247-2007), a local council member was allegedly tortured by a Sub Inspector who belongs to the Hasalaka police station in Theldeniya district, Kandy division. The victim has already filed a complaint, but the same police station did not conduct any investigation.

In this case, however, the complainant and the victim were sent from one police station to another before they were able to file their complaint. And even if the police had already accepted the complaint, they have done nothing to investigate it promptly, despite them having obtained the victim’s testimony and recording injuries she suffered as a result of the abuse.

Once police officer refuses to accept a complaint, they have effectively excused themselves from any responsibility. It is the duty of the police to register complaints and not to summarily reject them. They could take appropriate action later; for instance, assisting the complainant and victim to proper agencies should there be question of jurisdiction.

Please write letters to the concerned authorities requesting them to ensure that investigation into the victim’s complaint is done promptly. An inquiry into the inaction of the police to investigate promptly must be conducted. They must be held to account should it be proven that they have neglected their duties.

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Dear __________,

SRI LANKA: No investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of a 5-year-old girl

Name of the victim: Ms Y, a 5-year-old preschool pupil
Alleged perpetrator: Mohamed Hanifa Thawfek, the girl’s father
Name of police station who did not take action: Panwila Police Station, Kandy
Date of victim’s abuse: Sometime in April to June 2007

I am writing to voice my grave concern to the inaction by the Panwila police station in Kandy to investigate a complaint involving a 5-year-old girl allegedly sexually abused by her father, Mohamed Hanifa Thawfek. I have learned that the sexual abuse on her began sometime in April until June 2007.

I am informed that the girl’s grandmother, Helena Hettiarchchi, have already filed a complaint with the same police unit on July 18. I have learned though that there has not been any investigations conducted by them into the complaint. The girl’s father has not been investigated or made to answer the allegations against him. I am aware that on July 18 they have already obtained detailed testimonies from the girl and recorded her injuries but actions made taken after that.

Additionally, I am disappointed that even before the Panwila police accepted the complaint, two other police stations—in Nuwara-Eliya and in Kandy—had already refused to take action when the complaint was first reported to them. They instead referred them from one police stations to another. Helena had to take upon herself moving from one police stations to another only to get their complaint accepted and to obtain police assistance. I strongly reject this manner by which the police are treating the complainant.

As you are aware, it is the police’ obligations to accept criminal complaint and to provide appropriate assistance to the complainant and the victim. By not accepting their complaint, the police have effectively excused themselves from any responsibility which is completely unacceptable. To refuse any complainant without providing them adequate assistance denies complaint and victim with remedies. In this case, not only did the police fails to provide them adequate assistance the police also did nothing to investigate their complaint.

Furthermore, I urge you to ensure that the girl is given adequate assistance she requires, particularly rehabilitation and trauma counseling for the severe trauma she suffered as a result of the abuse. I am deeply concerned with the girl welfare.

I urge you to act on this matter according without further delay.

Yours sincerely,


1. Chairperson
National Child Protection Authority
330, Thalawathgoda Road
Fax: +94 11 2 778975

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

5. Secretary
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470

6. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Elimination of Violence against Women
Room 3-042
OHCHR-UNOG, Palais Wilson,
8-14 Avenue de la Paix,
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006

7. Mr. Jacob Egbert Doek
Committee on the Rights of the Child
1211 Geneva 10

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-258-2007
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Child rights, Sexual violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,