UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Four police officers, including a Sub Inspector of Police, arrested over the murder of Lalantha Fernando 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-005-2006
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Blasphemy Law in Pakistan, Death in custody, Impunity, Rule of law, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that four police officers, including a Sub Inspector of Police, have been arrested regarding the murder of Lalantha Fernando. (To see full details of this case please refer to UA-191-2005).

Lalantha Fernando was abducted from his house on 10 October 2005 and brutally assaulted and died in hospital on October 19.  The post mortem report showed extremely serious injuries to his body.  According to the family the reason for the abduction was that a Sub Inspector of Police had a dispute with Lalantha’s uncle due to a complaint made by the uncle against the police officer to higher authorities.  The plan, the family believes, was to arrest this uncle but mistakenly they abducted Lalantha instead.

The four officers arrested in this case are Sub Inspector Nilanga Perera and Police Constables Jude, Asela and Tillekaratne.

The inquiry was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).  Since the murder and up to the arrest, the family, local human rights groups and the AHRC have constantly worked to bring about pressure on the authorities to investigate the case and arrest the offenders.

While the AHRC very much welcomes the news of the arrests, the process of adjudication in Sri Lanka is very slow and therefore there should be serious pressure put on the government and the relevant state authorities for speedy indictment of the offenders and to ensure an equally speedy trial.  For the trial to begin the indictment must be filed at the High Court and this has to be done by the Attorney General’s Department.  Thereafter, the case will be heard at the High Court, which under normal circumstances can take several years.  Thereafter there is also an appeal process which can also take several years.  Therefore, it is essential to lobby for the immediate filing of these indictments by the Attorney General and for the trial to be heard and finished within the shortest possible time; that is within the coming six to twelve months.  Then, also, the appeal process should not take more than a similar period.

If cases are not heard in this manner there can be heavy intimidation on the witnesses and the family as there is no witness protection programme in the country.  The Committee against Torture (CAT Committee) has recommended that the government establish a witness protection programme as soon as possible.  However, so far there has been no move to do so.

We urge you to write once again to the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure speedy trial as set out above and protection for the family and witnesses.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission



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Dear ____________,

SRI LANKA: Need for speedy trial in case against four police officers, including a Sub Inspector of Police, arrested over the murder of Lalantha Fernando

I am pleased to learn that after investigations by the Criminal Investigation Department four police officers, namely Sub Inspector Nilanga Perera and Police Constables Jude, Asela and Tillekaratne have been arrested.

I urge that all necessary measures be taken to ensure a fair trial as speedily as possible.  I urge that the Attorney General’s department file indictments immediately and that the High Court hearing begin without delay and end within a period of six to twelve months. I also urge that the appeal process be completed within a similar period.

Delays in justice are a betrayal of justice and are also dangerous to the family and the victims.  I therefore request that action be taken to provide protection to the victims. Meanwhile it is also important to enact a law adequate to protect families and the victims of all crimes where threats and intimidation occur.  I fervently hope that this case will set an example of speedy trial and the capacity of the Sri Lankan state to deal with impunity.

I look forward to your intervention in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan
Attorney General 
Attorney General's Department
Colombo 12
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421

2. Mr. Chandra Fernando
Inspector General of Police (IGP) 
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
Fax: +94 11 2 440440/327877

3. National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers,
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
Tel: +94 11 2 395310 
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
Fax HOME: +94 11 2 674148
E-mail: polcom@sltnet.lk

4. Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
Chairperson Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka 
No. 36, Kynsey Road 
Colombo 8 
Tel: +94 11 2 694925 / 673806 
Fax: +94 11 2 694924 / 696470 
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

5. Mr. J Thangawelu
DIG Legal
Police Headquarters
Colombo 1
Fax: 94 11 2381 394
Email: legaldiv@police.lk

6. His Excellency the Hon. Mr Mahinda Rajapakse
President Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
C/- Office of the President
Temple Trees
150, Galle Road
Colombo 3
Fax: +94 11 2472100 / +94 11 2446657 (this is contact for Secretary to President)  
Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk

7. Mr. Philip Alston 
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions 
Attn: Lydie Ventre 
Room 3-016, c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (general)
Email: lventre@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission