Published On:Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian
H.A. Parackrama Karunaratne (28) of No. 34, Badiwewa, Ma Oya,Jayanthipura, Polonnaruwa went to make a complaint of gambling near his house. He was arrested, tortured and hand cuffed to a tree while his other wrist was cuffed to his leg by a sergeant of the Ma Oya Police Post on 26 April 2010.
by Basil Fernando
(October 05, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) The picture above speaks for itself. It depicts what happened to a young man who went to get police assistance to stop illegal gambling happening near his house.
When the man went to police station to find about what action had been taken on his complaint the police sergeant who had earlier taken down the complaint behaved strangely. The picture shows what he did to the complainant.
Why did the sergeant do that? No Sri Lankan will find it hard to guess -- the gamblers knew how to get the police officer on their side.
There is nothing unusual about the story. It is now, more often than not an example of what happens in both small and very serious matters.
The citizen that does the right thing gets into trouble and one who dares to do wrong thrives -- in everything -- business, politics et all.
The situation prevailing in the country is what is known as abysmal lawlessness. To go by the law is to be the loser while the law breaker is the winner.
The all important question is how did this come about? How did this happen? The answer is very simple – it was by way of the country's constitution, which was adopted in 1978. It was a constitution made to defeat law and discipline; to create an almighty ruler, who is above the law -- a supremo -- a brother who is number one.
The result is the chaos we see every day.
To fail to understand this is to fail to understand anything about Sri Lanka.
Without law, without control of corruption, what can policing mean, except what is depicted in this cartoon.
The case mentioned above took place a short time ago. For details please refer to the story below;
SRI LANKA: A complainant was illegally arrested, detained and tortured by officers of the Ma Oya Police Post
ISSUES: Illegal arrest; arbitrary detention; torture; denied medical treatments; fabricated charges; impunity; rule of law
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a man was illegally arrested by the police officers attached to the Ma Oya Police Post in the district of Polonnaruwa when he went to make a complaint. He was severely tortured and denied medical treatment. He only received medical treatment at the General Hospital of Polonnaruwa when he was transferred to the Headquarters Police Station. The man was remanded by a court after the police filled fabricated chargers against him.
According to the information we have received Mr. Henayaka Arachchilage Parackrama Karunaratne (28) of No. 34, Badiwewa, Ma Oya, Jayanthipura, Polonnaruwa, is married and a labourer by profession.
On 26 April 2010 at about 2 pm Parackrama went to the Police Post of Ma Oya, Jayanthipura, to make a complaint about the gambling den which is being run close to his house, the constable who was present said that he would send someone to raid the premises. Since no action appeared to have been taken, Parackrama returned to the police post at about 5 pm the same day.
When he entered the post he saw that there were about five constables and a sergeant on duty. When Parackrama told the sergeant who he knew as Senaratne about the gambling spot, the sergeant told him, "Do not tell me how to do my duty. If I want I will raid or just keep quiet". Then Parackrama, had told the sergeant that "I think you do not want to take any action, because, Sanjeewa who is running the spot is related to you." Hearing this, the sergeant got angry and slapped Parackrama. A Police Constable (PC) Dassanayake also joined in the assault.
At this point Parackrama realised that Sergeant Senaratne wanted to prevent Parackrama from making his complaint.
After that Sergeant Senaratne had brought a wooden pole from inside the Police Post and started to assaulted Parackrama, about his head and back. As a result Parackrama fell on ground and when this happened PC Dassanayake kicked him several times. Parackrama continuously pleaded with them to stop the assault.
Then Sergeant Senaratne brought two sets of hand cuffs, and with one set cuffed Parakrma to a tree. The second set was used to cuff his other wrist to his ankle. When this was done the officers continued to assault Parackrama again and again.
Parackrama’s wife Umali Amarasuriya and Parackrama’s father Karunaratne then came to the police post where they witnessed Parackrama writhing in pain. He showed them the swollen ankle and his back.
Then the sergeant asked Parackrama, whether he wanted to go home and he replied "You assaulted me without any reason. I am in pain. Either take me to a hospital or to the Headquarters Police Station of Kaduruwela."
At about 7.15pm in the night, Sergeant Senaratne took Parackrama in a Double Cab to Polonnaruwa General Hospital. First Sergeant Senaratne went to the room of the doctor keeping Parackrama inside the vehicle. He was only taken in after Senaratna spoke with the doctor.
The doctor examined Parackrama and noted down something in a paper. Parackrama told the doctor that the police officers had assaulted him and that he was in real pain and needed some treatment. However, the doctor did not pay any attention. Parackrama was brought out of the doctor's room and the sergeant went back inside to talk to the doctor. After this he took Parackrama out of the hospital. Parackrama told the sergeant that he needed some treatment but the officer told him that "First we will go to Kaduruwela Headquarters Police Station and after we will see about that."
When speaking to a human rights activist Parackrama clearly stated that the doctor did not execute his duties by providing necessary treatment for him and advising the police officers to admit him for further treatment although he was in an emergency situation to have medical treatment as a indoor patient.
Then sergeant brought Parackrama to Headquarters Police Station of Kaduruwela where he was put into the police cell.
Again Parackrama started screaming and asking for treatment as he was not able to bear the severe pain he was suffering as a result of the torture. He requested the Headquarters Inspector of Police (HQI) of the station also to provide treatment but it was not considered. Then Sergeant Senaratne told Parakrama that he wanted to send him home but since his mother had made a complaint to the Superintendent of Police (SP), he had to change his mind.
After some time Parackrama was brought to HQI of the station by the officers on duty. Then he was able to reveal what had happened to him. Then the HQI inspected the injuries and swellings on Parackrama's body and instructed Sergeant Senaratne to take Parackrama to Polonnaruwa General Hospital. He also detailed a PC and a home guard to be at Parackrama's bed side in the hospital.
Parackrama was brought to the hospital at about 8.10 pm and the doctors admitted him. He was treated in ward 10.
He remained in the hospital until the 28 April. On the 27 evening the Magistrate of Polonnaruwa came and inspected Parackrama's condition. Parackrama was able to explain all the things that happen to him including how he was tortured by the police officers. On the 28 April, the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) also examined Parackrama. He explained to the JMO also the way in which that he was tortured. Then on the same day he was discharged and brought to the Polonnaruwa Remand Prison.
On 30 April he was produced before the Magistrate's Court of Polonnaruwa. Then considering the submission made on his behalf the Magistrate enlarged him on bail under the condition of personal bail of Rs.15,000/=.
At the courts he learned that police officers had filed fabricated charges against him that he obstructed the official duty of the police officers after drinking, being a menace to his neighbours, misbehavior and embarrassing Police Officers, under Section 344 of Penal Code and Offences Committed under the Influence of Liquor (Special Provisions) Act No. 41 of 1979. He further learned that the number of the case which filed against him as B/442/2010.
Parackrama categorically states that he was not intoxicated at the time he went to the police post and even the doctors did not examine him for intoxication at any time.
Later, Parackrama's parents made complaints asking for an investigation into this case to the Superintendent of Police (SP) Polonnaruwa on 29 of April 2010. It was only then that a statement was recorded by the SP.
Further complaints were also made to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRC) and it was recorded under the No. HRC/AP/221/2101/ (E). Then Parackrama was asked to come to the HRC regional office at Anuradhapura. However, as in the vast majority of cases reported to the HRC nothing has happened to deliver justice.
Written complaints were also made to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of the area, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Polonnaruwa, Officer in Charge (OIC) of Polonnaruwa Headquarters Police Station and National Police Commission (NPC).
The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported innumerable cases of arbitrarily arrest and detentions by the Sri Lankan police which are illegal under international and local law which have taken place at different Police Station in the country over the past few years.
Constitution of Sri Lanka has guaranteed the right freedom from torture. According to the Article 11 of the constitution No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 12 (1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka has guaranteed the right to equality for all persons as stated that 'all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law'. Further Article 13 (1) has stated that 'No person shall be arrested except according to procedure established by law. Any person arrested shall be informed of the reason for his arrest'.
The Medical Council of Sri Lanka
In the case of, Mullankandage Amitha Priyanthi vs. Dr. W.R. Piyasoma, Case No. PPC 53, In the matter of an Inquiry under the Medical Ordinance read with the Medical Disciplinary (Procedure) Regulation 1990,
Clearly stated the duty of the doctors in particular for victims of police torture as follows:
“It is admitted that the patient informed Dr. Piyasoma that the Police assaulted him with a Pole. Thus, this committee is of the view it is the responsibility of the JMO to have carefully examined the patient and to ascertain as to how far the patient was affected by the injury caused by the Police, it is not the function of a Doctor or a JMO to anticipate what order the Magistrate would make in future and to come to conclusion based on anticipation. What is most interesting is the statement "that the patient had not made any such request and had the patient made such request, Dr Piyasoma would not have hesitated to recommend him for admission", This committee is baffled by this statement.
What more could the patient have told the JMO, other than stating that he was assaulted by Police with a pole; and, is it the responsibility of the patient to make a request to recommend him for admission? Or is it the responsibility of the Doctor/JMO to examine the patient and determine as to whether the injuries that he has sustained require medical attention in a hospital and therefore he should be admitted for such treatment.
This committee would have expected Dr. Piyasoma as a responsible JMO to listen to the patient carefully with regard to his complaints, to have examined the patient and to decide as to whether the injuries were so severe to require medical attention in a hospital forthwith. While doing so, if Dr Piyasoma had thought it was necessary to find out from the patient as to whether he requires hospitalization he could have done so. Further when the patient complained that the Police had assaulted with a pole, as a reasonable and prudent JMO, Dr. Piyasoma should have requested the Police to permit him to examine the patient without the Police being present there and created an environment to the patient to provide more information with regard to the assault which would have certainly assisted him to conduct more investigation in regard to the nature of the injuries hence, this inaction of JMO Dr. Piyasoma deprived the patient an opportunity to provide more details with regard to assault by the Police. Counsel for Dr. Piyasoma has marked the judgment in SC 471/2000 (FR) as R1."
Furthermore, Sri Lanka has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Nevertheless the lack of protection offered to those who are willing to take cases against abusive police officers and the state authorities, means that the law is under-used continues to be employed as a tool by the police to harass people. This not only takes a long-term toll on the victim and his or her family, but on society as a whole, by undermining of civilian respect for the law and encouraging impunity.
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
The State of Sri Lanka sign and ratified the CAT on 3 January 1994. Following state obligations Sri Lanka adopted Act number 22 of 1994 the law adopted by the Sri Lankan parliament making torture a crime that can be punishable for minimum seven years and not less than ten years on being proven guilty. The Attorney General of Sri Lanka is suppose to file indictments in the case where credible evidence were found on torturing people by state officers.
Please send a letter to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, arbitrary detention, torturing the boy and filling fabricated charges and restrict the right to movement by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country for misusing powers of a state officers and for mis-prosecution. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department. Further, please also request the NPC and the IGP to have a special investigation into the malpractices of the police officers for abusing the state officers' powers illegally in favor of private parties.
Please also request the Prison authorities of Sri Lanka to have a disciplinary action against the officers involved in torturing the child.
Please note that the AHRC has also written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on this regard.