UPDATE (SRI LANKA): Newspaper report on the torture case of Anthony Michael Emmanuel Fernando 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-07-2003
ISSUES: Torture,

Dear Friends,

We are sending you the following translation of a newspaper report on the torture case of Mr. Anthony Michael Emmanuel Fernando (see more details at http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/408/) that occurred from the hospital to Ananda Dharmapriya Jayasekara. The story was published in Ravaya, a Sinhalese newspaper, on Feb. 23, 2003.

We urge you to take appropriate action to save his life and to defend his human rights.

Thank you for your urgent action on this case.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)



“Please do not allow me to be killed. If I am killed, what will happen to my child, my wife and my aged father and mother? Sir, please inform this to the minister [of interior], John Amaratunga. As far as I can see, someone has put out a contract to the prison authorities to kill me. Already my spinal cord has been broken, and I cannot get up from the bed. I do not know what time my life will be lost to me. Why are these things done to me?” said torture victim Anthony Michael Emmanuel Fernando.

The sequence of events as described by him are as follows: “On Feb. 10, 2003, I had an asthma attack again [in the prison]. By then, I was discharged from the hospital [Ward 44]. Because of the unbearable pain from the asthma attack, I turned on the bed, and I fell from the bed. The pain in my back due to the fall was very severe, making it very difficult for me to get up. One hospital servant began to shout, ‘These prisoners do not want to leave, even when they are all right. It is a terrible headache to us.’ On hearing his shouting, the prison guards came running, realising that they [prison guards] were at fault.”

Then the prison guards prepared to take me to the prison. I got up and shouted, “I cannot [go] as my back is severely in pain.”

Then a person wearing khaki trousers, a white shirt and boots asked, “Aren’t you the person from Dehiwela? We know who you are. Get up, get up. You are just acting. We will look after you.”

However, since I could not get up, I remained without moving.

Then the prison guards carried me out of the hospital to a vehicle. I was put down by the road near the hospital, and the prison guards began to assault me in front of my father. The person who assaulted me was the one in plainclothes. The people who were in Ward 44 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2003, know what happened to me.

When I was shouting in pain, my father (Oswald Emmanuel Fernando) came forward and begged the prison guards, saying, “You cannot take him except in an ambulance.”

The person in plainclothes did not listen to any of that. He caught me by the neck and pushed me inside the police van.

My father shouted, “Ayyo, [They] are trying to kill my son.”

People at the ward gathered around the van hearing my father’s cries. The only prisoner in the van was myself. Other than me, there was a prison officer, two guards and the driver.

The person who pushed me into the van kicked me very hard and slapped me on both cheeks. I knelt down inside the van. Then I was kicked several times on my spinal cord with the boots. I felt frightened that I would be killed. I shouted and begged, saying, “Do not kill me.” The other prison guards did not assault me. I can identify the person who assaulted and kicked me.

When the van reached the prison premises, the same person said, “You have no sickness. Get down without pretending,” and he gave me a few kicks. I felt as if my spinal cord had been broken. I simply could not get up. I told him I couldn’t get up.

Then I was put on a stretcher, which looks like those used for carrying corpses, and taken to a nearby extremely foul-smelling toilet and told, “If you cannot get up, stay there.” Though I shouted many times “I cannot bear the terrible foul smell; take me away from here”, no one helped. [They were] saying, “You have no illness. You are pretending.”

Meanwhile, some prisoners came and told me to get up, to not pretend and harassed me. I felt that these prisoners came at the instigation of someone else. I begged them not to harass me. I may have been kept near the toilet for more than 24 hours.

Then I wanted to go the toilet. I shouted, asking for help. However, no one helped me. “You are lying. Get up and go to the toilet,” someone cried from afar. As I could not bear the pain, I excreted there. I also found it very difficult to urinate. Though I shouted again to remove me from that spot, no one came to help me.

Then someone came and removed all of my clothes, making me completely naked. He said, “If you find it difficult to stay like this, get up and come.” I stayed a further 24 hours near the same toilet.

Then I refused to eat or drink and observed a fast demanding that I be given medical treatment.

Not all prison officers were bad. There were some people as good as gold. They did not torture me, yet I felt there was nothing they could do for me.

Then my urine became blood-red. My blood was passing with my urine, and the prison authorities became fearful. They brought me back to the intensive care ward of the hospital [Ward 72] on Feb. 17, 2003, at night. I was brought in a van as I was told that the prison does not have ambulances. I was told that however serious the prisoner’s condition was this is how a person will be brought to the hospital.

At the hospital, I told the doctor about all of the cruelty and torture I was made to suffer. I was told that what I had said was not recorded in the bed-head ticket – maybe because it was thought that it is not good to record that prison officers have treated a patient in this way.

“Now I do not have faith in the security of my life. I feel that there is a contract to kill me. How did the person who tortured me know that I am from Dehiwela? For what reason did that officer have to torture me? If I would be sent to the prison again, it is sure that I will be killed there. Inside there, there is no protection for a prisoner. As I cannot get up from bed, there is nothing I can do for myself. I said to John Amaratunga [minister of interior], ‘Please, allow my child to have even a paralysed father. Please, save me from death.'”


Please send your appeal to the attorney general, the chairman of the National Police Commission (NPC) and all Supreme Court judges of Sri Lanka, urging them to guarantee his safety and provide immediate medical treatment to him.

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



Re. Michael Anthony Emmanuel Fernando, a case for prosecution under Act No. 22 of 1994 

You are aware of the complaint of torture of Mr. Michael Anthony Emmanuel Fernando while in prison custody. It is obvious that Mr. Fernando has been tortured severely. I urge that this matter be investigated by the Prosecution of Perpetrators of Torture Unit; and if the allegations are true, the prison officers ought to know the person who assaulted Mr. Fernando. The prison officers themselves should be investigated for failure to prevent the use of torture in their custody. Furthermore, the prison authorities are answerable for all of the allegations, including the very cruel treatment that this prisoner has suffered inside prison. Meanwhile, I urge you to use your authority to provide medical care and protect the prisoner. 

Moreover, the prisoner is entitled to justice. For that purpose, he is especially entitled for protection from those who would want to subvert the cause of justice by harming or even killing him. The prisoner himself feels that there is a conspiracy to kill him. 

The translation below of a news report in Ravaya on Feb. 23, 2003, can be the basis for an inquiry. (Please attach the above newspaper report when you send your appeal.) 

I look forward to learning about your prompt action to address the human rights abuses that Mr. Fernando has suffered and to ensure that justice is rendered in this case. 



1. Hon. Chief Justice S. N. Silva 
Office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka 
Superior Courts Complex 
Fax: +94 1 320785 

2. Registrar of the Supreme Court 
Supreme Court of Sri Lanka 
Superior Courts Complex 
Fax: +94 1 320785 

3. Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya, PC 
National Police Commission 
No. 4, Shavasthi Place 
Colombo 7 
Fax: +94 1 674148 

4. Hon. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan 
Attorney General 
Attorney General's Department 
Colombo 12 
Fax: +94 1 436421 
E-mail: attorney@sri.lanka.net or counsel@sri.lanka.net 

And send a copy of your appeal to: 

Mr. T. E. Anandrajah 
Inspector General of Police (IGP) 
New Secretariat 
Colombo 1 
Fax: +94-1-446174 
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-07-2003
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,