SRI LANKA: Torture of children by the police and abuse of children’s rights


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-30-2002
ISSUES: Torture,

SRI LANKA: Torture of children by the police and abuse of children’s rights


– Names: T. K. Hiran Rasika (10 years old) and E. A. Kasun Madusanka (12 years old)

– Date: Arrested on July 9, 2002/tortured on July 9 and 10, 2002/released at noon on July 10

– Perpetrators: Two police officers from the Hiniduma police station


Two children studying at Millika Mahavidyala School in Hiniduma, Sri Lanka, were arrested by officers attached to the Hiniduma police station who were investigating a theft which had taken place in the school canteen. One 10-year-old child was in Grade 5, T. K. Hiran Rasika, and the other 12-year-old child was in Grade 8, E. A. Kasun Madusanka.

At the police station, they were asked to admit their involvement in the theft. To force them to confess, they were hung on beams by their legs and beaten, their hair was pulled with pliers and pins were inserted under their fingernails. Because of this torture by two police officers in the Hiniduma police station, the boys have been hospitalized.

The incident created a great deal of media attention and was reported on TV and in other mass media. A leading newspaper, Divayina, devoted an editorial to the issue and called for an inquiry. The editorial questioned why this incident of theft was investigated by the police and not the school authorities. It recalled the incident in Ambilipitiya where 28 school children disappeared after a school principal conspired with some soldiers to interfere into a private dispute.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to point out that this type of situation in which even children are being tortured in Sri Lanka can only occur because the discipline of the police has collapsed and there is widespread use of very gruesome forms of torture practised at police stations throughout the country. Now the habitual use of torture has even been applied to children.

Higher police officials have not acted fast enough nor with seriousness to the issue of torture. They have instead stated that they await investigations. For an incident like this, an inquiry could have been conducted in a few hours, and actions could have been taken. Instead, the two officers have been transferred to another police station. This reaction is merely to avoid public condemnation and protests.

Sri Lankan law relating to torture is contained in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act (Act 22 of 1994). This act has incorporated into Sri Lankan law the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was signed in New York on Dec. 10, 1984. By an instrument of accession dated Dec. 14, 1993, and deposited with the secretary-general of the United Nations on Jan. 3, 1994, Sri Lanka has acceded to this convention, and the convention entered into force in Sri Lanka on Feb. 2, 1994.

A person guilty of an offence under Act 22 of 1994 shall, on conviction after trial by the High Court, be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than seven years and not exceeding 10 years and a fine not less than 10,000 rupees and not exceeding 50,000 rupees. An offence under this act shall be a cognisable offence and a non-bailable offence within the meaning, and for the purposes, of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act 15 of 1979. The Prosecution of Torture Perpetrators Unit functions under the Dept. of the Attorney General.


Please write to the prime minister, attorney general, the minister of education and the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to condemn use of torture against children and to call for reform of the police force and the entire law enforcement system that can permit such an act to take place.



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Dear Sir,

Re.: Torture of children – T. K. Hiran Rasika (10 years old) and E. A. Kasun Madusanka (12 years old) by two officers of the Hiniduma Police Force

I am really shocked that even children as young as 10 and 12 are being tortured in Sri Lanka. It is even more shocking that even after the exposure of these acts these officers continue to work as police officers.

We urge you to complete inquiries against these police officers as promptly as possible and to prosecute them as soon as possible under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act (Act 22 of 1994). We also urge that the State bears the cost of the full medical treatment of these children and that they be given the best treatment possible. I further urge the government to compensate the children substantially and adequately. This kind of torture indicates a very deep malaise of the system. I urge that a thorough reform of the system be undertaken to ensure a credible and trustworthy police force.

Action should also be taken against the school principal and any teachers who have handed over these children to the police. They bear a heavy responsibility for all that has happened. Anyone who could do this type of action against children does not deserve to be a teacher.

Sincerely yours,



1. Hon. Prime Minister

Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe

Cambridge Place

Colombo 7


Fax: 941 682905 or 542919 (Secretary to the PM)

Email: (Secretary to the PM)

SALUTATION: Hon. Prime Minister

2. Hon. Mr. K.C. Kamalasabesan

Attorney General

Attorney – General’s Department

Colombo 12


Fax: +941 436421

SALUTATION: Dear Attorney General

3. Hon. Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku

Minister of Human Resources Development, Education and Cultural Affairs


Sri Jayawardhanapura Kotte,

Battaramulla, Colombo


Tel: +941 784832 or 784807

Fax: +941 784325

Email: (Secretary to the Minister)

SALUTATION: Dear Minister

Fax: +41 22 917-9016



Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-30-2002
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,