UPDATE (Sri Lanka): UN Human Rights Committee over-rules government’s objections to admissibility regarding Lalith Rajapakse’s case 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-50-2005
ISSUES: Torture,

[RE: UP-17-2005:  SRI LANKA: Lalith Rajapakse freed; Action needs to be taken against the police who falsely charged him, UP-81-2004: SRI LANKA: Continuing death threats to human rights activists and torture victims after murder of Gerald Perera, UP-77-2004: More death threats to a torture victim and a human rights defender; Witness protection is urgently needed, UP-42-2003: SRI LANKA: Threats to the life of the torture victim Lalith Rajapakse, UP-39-2003: Torture victim, Lalith Rajapakse, was acquitted of fabricated charges, UP-27-2003: Torture under Act No. 22 of 1994: but the accused police officers still function as officers, UP-29-2002: Court orders Release of Lalith Rajapakse, and UA-19-2002: Urgent medical help needed for torture victim]

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is glad to inform you that with regard to the case of Lalith Rajapakse (UP-17-2005UP-81-2004UP-77-2004UP-42-2003UP-39-2003UP-27-2003UP-29-2002UA-19-2002), the UN Human Rights Committee has made a decision to admit his communication, thus over-ruling the objections to admissibility taken up by the Sri Lankan government.  (To see the full version, click: Communication No. 1250/2004)

The decision of the UN Human Rights Committee is a response to Rajapakse, a torture victim, having filed a case against the Sri Lankan government complaining of torture and illegal detention. The Sri Lankan government took objection that as a case of fundamental rights before the Supreme Court and a case under the CAT Act are pending before the High Court, the communication cannot be admitted as the author has not exhausted domestic remedies.  However, the Committee having examined all the circumstances held on 8 March 2005 that the Committee finds the communication admissible.  The Committee stated:

“The Committee notes that the issues raised by the author still continue to remain pending before the High Court as well as the Supreme Court, despite nearly three years having passed since their institution and the police officer alleged to have participated n the torture of the author still continues under indictment in the criminal case.  It is significant to note that the State party has not provided any reasons why either the fundamental rights case or the indictment against the police officer could not have been considered more expeditiously, not has it claimed the existence of any elements of the case which should have complicated the investigations and judicial determination of the case preventing its determination for nearly three years.  For these reasons, the Committee finds that the delay in the disposal of the Supreme Court case and the criminal case amounts to an unreasonable prolonged delay within the meaning of article 5, paragraph 2 (b), of the Optional Protocol.  The Committee therefore finds this communication admissible with respect to the alleged violations of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant.”

The Committee has ordered the government to file objections on merit in the case.

Meanwhile, both the cases before the High Court under the CAT Act and the fundamental rights case in the Supreme Court are pending. Rajapakse, fearing for his life has sought protection from human rights organisations and is living far from home.  He and his family still live in fear of reprisals from the alleged perpetrators who have ceaselessly threatened vengeance on him for pursuing these complaints.

The Sri Lankan government has failed to pay any form of compensation to Lalith Rajapakse.  We suggest you to write letters to the Sri Lankan authorities to expedite the cases of Lalith Rajapakse against the police officers who inflicted torture on him and to provide him protection and compensation.

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


Dear _______,

Re: The delay of two cases regarding Lalith Rajapakse's torture in court 

I draw your attention to the UN Human Rights Committee's decision dated March 8, 2005 on the communication filed by the torture victim, Lalith Rajapakse.  This decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee clearly recognises that the delay in deciding the cases before the Supreme Court and the High Court amounts to an unreasonably long delay within the meaning of article 5 Paragraph 2 (b) of the Optional Protocol.

Such unreasonable delays in fact contribute as an encouragement to torture perpetrators.  Endless cases of torture that come from Sri Lanka have not yet received a serious response from the Sri Lankan government or any government agencies.  I urge you to give serious consideration to this decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and to take appropriate action to end delays regarding these cases of torture and other violations of human rights.

Regarding the particular case of Lalith Rajapakse, I urge that the cases before the courts be expedited.  I also urge protection and compensation for the victim.

Yours sincerely,



1. Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse 
Prime Minister 
Temple Trees
Galle Road, Colombo 03
Tel: +94 11 2 543938-42 / 437676
Fax: +94 11 2 384916
E-mail: pm_sec@slt.lk

2. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan 
Attorney General 
Attorney General's Department 
Colombo 12 
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421 
Email: attorney@sri.lanka.net or counsel@sri.lanka.net

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

4. Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya PC 
National Police Commission 
69-1 Ward Place, Colombo 7 
Fax: +94 11 2 669 528
Fax HOME: +94 11 2 674148
E-mail: polcom@sltnet.lk 

5. Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka 
No. 36, Kynsey Road 
Colombo 8 
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806 
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470 
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

6. Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr. Safir Syed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (general)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-50-2005
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,