UPDATE (SRI LANKA): Delayed inquiries on alleged torture, illegal arrest and detention


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-02-2004
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention,

Dear Friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is referring you to two cases of torture, illegal arrest and illegal detention about which complaints have been made to the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka quite some time back, but allegedly inquiries have been delayed up to now. One of the cases is that of Sheron Suranga Wijewardena about whom the AHRC issued an urgent appeal on 30 August 2003 (refer to: UA-38-2002: Sri Lanka: Torture victim has not been produced before the JMO even after a magistrate’s order).

The AHRC understands that after a period of serious problems the National Human Rights Commission is trying to improve its services. The AHRC urges you to write to the chairperson of the NHRC to expedite the inquiries into these two cases. The AHRC reproduces below the letter written by the AHRC to the chairperson of the NHRC, Sri Lanka in this matter.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

AHRC appeal letter to Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

15 January 2004

To Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy
National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8

Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470

Dear Ms. Coomaraswamy

Re: Delayed inquiries on alleged torture, illegal arrest and detention

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is referring to you two complaints received from two families regarding cases of torture and illegal arrest about which complaints have been made to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) quite some time ago but allegedly no inquiries have been held. In one case K G Prabhath Neel Chaminda, the complainant, is allegedly in remand prison for one year. He complains of torture as well as illegal arrest and detention without any reason. 

The second case, that of Sheron Suranga Wijewardena is also a serious torture case about which the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has written to the NHRC quite some time back. This case also involves the fabrication of serious charges.

The AHRC is referring the two complaints to you so that you can review the files and take appropriate steps to expedite the inquiries.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours

Kim Soo A
Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Reference: Cases Of K G Prabhath Neel Chaminda, Ambetholla, Kapuduwa, Thihagoda, Matara And Sheron Suranga Wijewardena

Case No 1. K G Prabhath Neel Chaminda

Hultsdorp Magistrate’s Court Case No. B/8061

The above named accused Kebedduwa Gamage Prabhath Neel Chaminda is my son and since 2002/12/02 is in Colombo Remand Prison. Against him the Kadawatha Police has filed Case Nos.B/2665, B/2954 and B/3041 in the Magistrates Court. The above case no.B/8061 is filed by the Kelaniya Police.

My son has been a three-wheel taxi driver by profession. He is owning a three wheeler bearing the registration No. GT 4412 and operated his hires from Kotahena Junction, Colombo. After hiring work at Kotahena while he was driving to his sister’s (K G Pushpa) place at Gonapola, Kelaniya where he resided, an armed gang of three near the Kelaniya Bus Stand forced him to stop and they have got into the three wheeler. One of the gangsters aiming a pistol to his head and threatening to kill ordered him to drive forward. While he was driving little while forward, even risking his life, he overturned the three-wheeler. The moment the three-wheeler stopped the three armed gangsters ran away leaving my son behind. But a van came behind and stopped. The occupants of the van got down, caught my son and handed over to the custody of the Kelaniya Police.

While inside the police my son has been severely assaulted and in this assault some of the occupants of the van also have participated. When my son had indicated to the police officers that he had not taken his lunch even, the OIC has kicked him on the eye. Some police officers have driven needles in the nails. When my elder son and others were not allowed to see my son and the OIC has told my elder son that my son who was taken into custody would not be released for years, and let them get him released through influential people.

My daughter informed me at about 10 pm on 1st December and I reached the Kelaniya Police Station by 7.00 am on 2nd December. I too was not allowed to see him, but he was produced in Court in the afternoon that day. My son had to walk to the Court House with the help of another two people as my son was subject to such a severe assaulting that be could not walk. When the Magistrate saw the pathetic state of my son, he ordered that my son be warded in the Prison Hospital immediately. He was refused bail, as my son was involved in possessing a firearm.
When we sought relief through the High Court, on a report by the police, bail was refused for three months. (In this report my son was identified as a leader of an underworld gang.). As my son is still in the prison after more than one year, I now seek relief for my son through the Human Rights Commission.

My son is not involved in any robberies nor down he even know about them. He is the father of two children two girls one is aged four years and the other just eight months. As we have lost the main income earning we have been reduced to destitution. To buy the Three Wheeler for my son we had to mortgage only property to the Sanasa Bank. We are now unable to repay the loan installments and now the bank is trying to auction the property. In trying to save my son, I had to borrow around Rs 4 lakhs.

Please consider the above and think of me and my son and try to get my son out of this case.
I attest that all what I have said were true and correct.

Date: 2004/1/2.
Yours truly 
KG Sirisena. 

Case No. 2 

HRC/I/606/02.- Sheron Suranga Wijewardena

When my son Sheron was brutally assaulted and tortured by the Sri Lanka Police (CID), I promptly made a complaint with the Human Rights Commission Of Sri Lanka on 3 September, 2002. This complaint was acknowledged by HRC of Sri Lanka by their letter dated 5 September, 2002. Later, by their letter dated 10th October, 2002, I was informed that my complaint was registered under no.HRC/I/606/02. 

After an unusually prolonged silence, I contacted the HRC and made inquiries about the progress of this case. The officer politely told me that it will be taken up in the near future. It is sad to note that there is no reasonable progress made by the HRC to-date. 

I am in a dilemma as to with whom I should take this up with, when HRC apparently has failed to proceed with this case due to reasons best known to them.

Shanthi Wijewardena. 
Father of torture victim, Sheron Suranga Wijewardena.

Please send a letter to the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka requesting speedy inquiries on the two serious torture cases. 

Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy
National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806 
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470 
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

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


Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy
National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

Re: The Two Cases of K G Prabhath Neel Chaminda and Sheron Suranga Wijewardena (HRC No.HRC/I/606/02

I am writing regarding the complaint of delay of inquiries for over one year regarding the two cases mentioned above. In one of the cases the complainant is in remand prison for one year now. He complains of having been tortured and implicated in a case without any basis. The other case is also of serious torture and involves fabricated charges. 

We understand that you are making efforts to overcome some of the difficulties which had existed in the past regarding inquiries at the NHRC. We urge you to initiate reviews of these two cases and take appropriate action to complete the inquiries as soon as possible. The very purpose of a national institution in terms of the Paris Principles is to provide redress to alleged human rights victims as soon as possible. I hope that the matter of delay will be brought to an end by your intervention.

Sincerely yours,


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-02-2004
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention,