SRI LANKA: A man tortured is clubbed to death by prison officers


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-55-2002
ISSUES: Torture,

SRI LANKA: Torture by police, beaten to death by prison officers: Ineffectiveness of the law and machinery against torture


– Name of the Victim: Mr. Lamahewage Lal Meddagoda (36)

– Date of Death: November 7, 2002

– Place of Torture: Seeduwa Police and Negombo Prison


Mr. Lamahewage Lal Meddagoda (36), a coconut plucker who lived in Seeduwa South, was a father of three children (two daughters and one son). He was arrested by the Seeduwa Police with another person named Wewalage Shelton Fernando for allegedly stealing Sri Lanka Rupees 300 worth ‘kehel kana’ (a plantain bunch). He was arrested on the 5 November 2002. According to the evidence of Mr. W. Shelton Fernando at the inquest conducted by the Magistrate Negombo M. N. Buran, both persons were tortured by the Police.

On the following day evening, they were remanded by the Negombo Magistrate. At that moment the prison officials asked them why they were remanded. When they gave the reasons why, then four prison officials and few inmates of the remand prison began to attack them. According to Shelton, he withstood the attack, but Lal was unable to bear the torture and he began to run here and there. They attacked with batons and boots in a very inhuman way.

On the 8 November 2002, when Shelton was being taken to the courts, he has seen that body of Lal was taken on a stretcher and later he heard that Lal had died.

Dr. Ananda Samarasekera who conducted the post-mortem will submit the report to the judiciary. Further inquires are being conducted by the Negombo HQI Dhammika Dayananda, Police inspectors Ratnayaka and H. Meella.


According to press reports, the people of Seeduwa South – wanted the body to be kept at home and there was a big protest on the night of the 9 November 2002 and the police had to fire into air to disperse the crowd. The funeral of Lal was held on the 11 November 2002.

On the 12 November 2002, again the editorial of the “Divaina” (a Sinhala language daily) entitled “Thirisannu II” (Animals II) stated;

“Prison should not be a torture chamber. However, there are torturers in Sri Lankan prisons. These torturers are not only the convicts in the prisons but also the prison officials. The police must act and immediately arrest the perpetrators of this inhumane act.”

“According the reports, these 2 persons got also severely beaten by certain of the [Seeduwa] police station before they were sent to the remand prison in Negombo. After that they were brutally beaten up by the prison officials of the Negombo Prison and some convicts. The prison officials to take to hospitalize the person named Lal after he got severely weak and sick following the brutal torture.”

“In fact this is a minor crime, if the prison officials and others take pleasure in attacking such a poor person, they must mentally sick. It is also reported through the favors of the prisoners, the officials do receive cigarettes, food etc. There are also other situations of drug dealing that takes place with the support of the prison officials.”

“Indeed there are good prison officials too. Now it is high time that government should initiate reform of the prison system.”

Finally, the editor clearly demands that the persons responsible be brought to justice. The incident was reported in three Sinhala language newspapers and two English papers.


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Re: The cases of Mr. Lamahewage Lal Meddagoda (36) allegedly tortured by Seeduwa police and beaten to death by prison officials at Negombo Prison, and W. Shelton Fernando allegedly tortured by Seeduwa police and tortured by prison officials at Negombo Prison

I draw your kind attention to these cases: the case of beaten to death by prison officials and other torture victim who has survived. These two cases are further additions to long list of torture victims in Sri Lanka in recent months.

In this instance, both were tortured twice, first by the police and later by the prison officials. The brutality of these actions points to systematic torture taking place in Sri Lanka and break down of all system of controls to prevent torture by law enforcement and prison officers. The protests made over these cases seem to bear no results.

I condemn this gross violation of human rights and requests that a quick inquiry be held into these cases so culprits be brought to justice. The existence of Act No. 22 of Sri Lanka, prescribing 7 years mandatory sentence against torture by state officials, and the Prosecution of Torture Perpetrators Unit under Attorney General’s Department has not yet become a deterrent against torture since no effective action has been taken even in a single case. The ineffectiveness of the prosecutors is part of the problem.

I urge you to take action to stop this barbaric situation.

Thank you.



1. Honorable Prime Minister

Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe

Cambridge Place

Colombo 7

Sri Lanka

Fax: +94 1 682905

Email: or

SALUTATION: Hon. Prime Minister

2. Hon. Mr. K.C. Kamalasabesan

Attorney General

Attorney – General’s Department

Colombo 12


Fax: +94 1 436 421

Email: or

SALUTATION: Dear Attorney General

3. Mr. T. E. Anandrajah

Inspector General of Police (IGP)

New Secretariat

Colombo 1,


Fax: +94 1 446174

SALUTATION: Dear Inspector General of Police

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-55-2002
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,