SRI LANKA: Social Worker tortured by police


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-36-2001
ISSUES: Torture,

UA-36-2001: Social Worker tortured by police

SRI LANKA: Denial of Freedom from Torture, Cruel and Inhumane Treatment


There has been another instance of severe torture of a ‘suspect’ at the hands of the Sri Lankan police on the 6th of October. The person who suffered the torture was Mr. Namal Fernando, 37, a fulltime social worker and father of three from Pitipana Duwa, Negombo, 32 km from Colombo. It appears to have been a case of mistaken identity – he has now been released from without charge and has been recovering in hospital. We are asking you to write letters on behalf of the torture victim. Details of the incident are as follows:


On the 6th of October at about 8pm, three police officers and some others in uniform came to the house of Namal Fernando in a white van. Inside the van was Sunanda Appuhamy, who identified Namal. The police took Namal away, saying it was their \”Rajakariya\” (duty to the state) to do so. The police gave neither Namal nor his family any reason for his arrest. At this stage Namal’s wife Fatima Rajan Fernando and brother Gerard also got into the van and they were driven to the house of Herman Sarath Fernando, a friend of Namal, at Wennupuwa. As Sarath Fernando was not at home the police guarded the house and waited for about three hours. At this stage Chaminda Silva, Attorney-at-Law, arrived and took down the numbers of all police officers. The Officer in Charge was Mr. Mathew of the Mundalama police. After that, Namal was put into another police van and taken to Puttlam.

At about 12.45 the Van was stopped at Madampe and the police drank liquor inside the van. At this stage someone in civil dress hit Namal on the face three times with his fist, causing him to shout in pain. Then the Van was driven to Mundalama police station, about 70km away from Negombo, where one police officer used his hand and foot to assault Namal and then put him inside the police cell.

At this stage a Catholic priest Gerard Jayawardene came to the police station with a group of others and inquired the reason for Namal’s arrest and the police officer who assaulted Namal said that Namal had threatened him by putting a pistol against his head. Then Namal was put back inside the cell and kept there for another half an hour. After that the Officer in Charge of the police and four other police officers got into a jeep and took Namal to Wennupuwa. They stopped the Jeep near Sarath Fernando’s house and took Namal out towards the house and assaulted him. Then Namal was pressed to the ground by two police officers who then put their feet on both sides of Namal’s shoulders while another officer pointed a gun at him. Another officer shouted \”YAKKO [you devil] unload that gun.\” Then the officer holding the gun said that if the gun fired he would say he had shot because the prisoner had tried to escape.

Again they put Namal back into police jeep and took him to Green Villa Guest House at Haldaduwana. The officer in charge got out of the jeep there and other police officers took Namal to another house and hit his chest and knees with the butt of the T-56 (firearm). Due to severe pain Namal involuntarily evacuated his bowels. Thereafter he was taken to the office of the Senior Police Superintendant at Chilaw and on the 7th October taken back to Mundalama police station. Later Sarath Fernando was also brought to the police station and a Catholic nun, Sister Benedict, visited Namal at the police station.

After that the Police Officer In Charge showed a statement to Namal and Sarath, which they signed in fear though the content was not read to them. At 2.30pm Namal was taken to the Hospital at Mundalama and a female doctor examined him. At 3.30pm a police officer took statements from Namal and Sarath and told them that they had been taken into custody regarding a robbery that had taken place at Marrinawatte. It is only at that stage that Namal was informed of the charges for the first time.

At 8.30pm, Namal was produced before the Magistrate and was remanded. Namal was released the next day without charge. [It appears that Namal was arrested on mistaken identity.] Then Namal entered Ragama Hospital for treatment.


The following constitutional rights have been violated: Protection from Toture and Other Inhuman Treatment; Illegal Arrest; and Arrest Without Informing the Reason for Arrest. The crime of Torture is international recognised as a crime ‘jus cogens’, that is a crime that the state has an international responsibility to prosecute, regardless of the circumstances.


Please write directly to the President of Sri Lanka and also to the Inspector General of Police to alert them to this case and call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the police officers responsible for this torture.



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


Your Excellency

I have learned of the torture of Mr. Namal Fernando, 37, of Pitipana Duwa, Negombo on 6-7 October 2001. He was tortured under Mr. Mathew, the Officer in Charge at Mundalama (Mundel) police and was intimidated to make a confession, and later released and all charges dropped. But the dropping of charges, though necessary, is not enough to absolve the offending police nor the state of this horrendous and all-too-common crime. There must be justice for this latest victim, in the form of the immediate arrest and full prosecution of the police involved and also full compensation for Mr. Namal Fernando. The legislation in Sri Lanka relating to torture is among the best in the world, but unless it is applied it is completely meaningless. I urge you to ensure these laws are used to bring justice in the case of Mr. Namal Fernando.





Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga

Presidential Residence

Colombo 03


Fax: +941 333 703

SALUTATION: Your Excellency

Mr. B.L.V. Kodituwakku

Inspector General of Police

New Secretariat

Colombo 1,


Fax: +941 446 174

SALUTATION: Dear Inspector General


Mr. Fais Musthapa


Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

No. 50, Dr. N.M. Perera Mawatha

Borella, Colombo 8


Fax: +941 696 470


SALUTATION: Dear Mr. Musthapa

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-36-2001
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,