UPDATE (SRI LANKA): NGOs’ appeal on police attack on NHRC


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-09-2002
ISSUES: Impunity, Police violence,

Dear Friends, 

Following is an appeal which was signed by more than 30 NGOs in Sri Lanka, to urge the Sri Lankan government to take impartial inquiry and action against a high level police attack on the NHRC on 22 January, 2002. The Sri Lankan government, as well as the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has not yet taken any action on this matter. 

We are also urging you to take action on this matter. You can reach our urgent appeal including sample letters and updates on this matter through 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Desk 
Asian Human Rights Commission 



18th February, 2002 

Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga, 
Hon. Prime Minister 
Hon. Minister of Interior, 
Hon. Minister of Justice, 

Dear Madam / Sir, 

RE: Obstruction of an inquiry and disrespectful contemptuous behavior towards the Human Rights Commission by Mr. Ranman Kodithuwakku A.S.P. 

We have come to know through reliable sources that Mr. Ranman Kodithuwakku ASP, called before the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka for an inquiry, had behaved arrogantly and intimidated the inquiring officer, Mr. Nimal Punchihewa, both inside and outside the Commission building. Although an apparently minor act, Mr. Kodithuwakku¡¯s behavior needs to be taken very seriously as it is indicative of a common mentality among the Sri Lankan police towards the Human Rights Commission. Those with influential connections in particular persist in the belief that they are above the law and can operate with absolute impunity. 

On 22 January 2002, Mr. Kodithuwakku was summoned to the Human Rights Commission regarding a case of disputed arrest. The parties to the matter leading to the arrest, including the Piliyandala Police, had already agreed that it was a civil affair. Notwithstanding, Mr. Kodithuwakku ordered the arrest of one party and had him brought before the courts. That person subsequently lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, resulting in the hearing of 22 January. 

A senior lawyer of the Human Rights Commission, Mr. Nimal Punchihewa conducted the enquiry. Rather than cooperate with him, Mr. Kodithuwakku thought it fit to challenge the authority of the Commission, acting rudely and claiming that it had no right to investigate the matter. After his outburst the inquiring officer requested Mr. Kodithuwakku to leave the room, upon which the ASP replied that he would take with him the other police officers called as witnesses, threatening, ¡°we will attend to this tomorrow. I will make complaints.¡± When Mr. Punchihewa left that evening, a constable had been placed outside the Commission to note down the registration of his vehicle. 

We believe that the actions of Mr. Kodithuwakku were aimed at obstruction the work of the Human Rights Commission and intimidation its inquiring officer personally. Graver still, as the incident occurred within the Commission itself and with all parties to the case present as witnesses, the actions clearly tend to undermine public confidence in the ability of the Commission to perform its functions. 

We urge you to ensure that an impartial inquiry is held as soon as possible and serious disciplinary action taken against Mr. Ranman Kodithuwakku, if found guilty. 

We also urge you to ensure that the Inspector General of Police assures the Human Rights Commission that it will be protected from further abuse 

Thank you. 

Yours sincerely, 

Movement for Defense of Democratic Rights (MDDR) 
National Peace Council 
Women and Media Collective 
Mothers and Daughters of Lanka 
Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) 
Binthanna Kantha Peramuna 
Kantha Shakthi 
Women¡¯s Center 
Sunila Kantha Sangwidhanaya 
Peoples¡¯ Education Center (Praja Adhyapanna Madhyabanaya) 
Rajarata Jana Prabhodhanee Padanama 
Uva Wellassa Govi Ka Sang 
Sri Lanka Women¡¯s NGO Forum 
Home for Human Rights 
Rural and Community, Development and Corporation 
Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) 
Govt. Nursing Officer¡¯s Association 
Samajavadhi Wathu Sevaka Sangamaya 
Kandha Shakthi 
Center for Society and Religion 
Women¡¯s Education and Research Center 
Seth Sith Women Movement 
Uwa Praja Sangwardhana Madhdhayasthanaya 
Movement for Free and Fair Election 
PPP, Institute of Human Rights 
Avadhi Lanka 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-09-2002
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Impunity, Police violence,