Young man beaten brutally and laid with fabricated charges

(February 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) According to the information Mr. Egodawattege Ruwan Niroshana (18) of Uragoda Road, Ellekanda, Welipenna is an agrarian labourer by profession.

Niroshana works in his parent's paddy fields as well as those of his relatives and other villagers. He is well trained in handling an agrarian tractor but does not have a valid driving license. Niroshana has been charged on four occasions which included offences of driving an agrarian tractor without driving license while two of occasions were fabricated cases filed by the Officers-in-Charge (OIC) of the Welipenna Police Station. The Attorney-at-Law pleaded guilty on his behalf informing Niroshana to summarily finalise the cases by paying a fine and thereby avoiding unnecessary delays and expense. But all those cases were filed against him a year ago. Niroshana belongs to a poor family and due to economic difficulties he did not get the opportunity to continue with his education even at school. He was considered as an innocent and down to earth villager who is willing to help anyone in the village. On many occasions it was Niroshana who intervened and helped his fellow villagers in difficult hard jobs some of which involved jobs which were distasteful.

On 25 May 2010 after completing his regular work at the paddy fields Niroshana returned home in the evening and stayed there. He remained at home in the company of his family members all night until the the following morning. His mother came home at around 9pm and stayed with him.

The next morning he came to the road junction in the village to go for his work in the paddy field. There he met some of his friends and he talked with them while at the three wheel park. While Niroshana was sitting on one three wheeler he observed another three wheeler which came and stopped close to him. The driver of the three wheeler asked Niroshana for his name. Niroshana complied but asked as to why the man wanted to know. Then the driver told him that he would find out the reason soon.

After a while another three wheeler came and also stopped close to him. Two persons from the newly arrived three wheeler approached Niroshana and started to assault him. Niroshana was able to identify them as police officers as one of them was officer Jayasinghe attached to the Welipenna Police Station. He therefore believed that the other one was also a police officer. After severely assaulted him the officers dragged Niroshana into the three wheeler by the collar of his T-Shirt. By the time they arrived at the Welipanna Police Station the T-shirt was torn.

At the police station the officers brought Niroshana to the Baracks of the male officers where he was handcuffed to a bed. He was detained like that for many hours during which time he suffered pain from his injuries and was in extreme fear as he had no idea of why he was being treated in such a fashion. Then some officers came to him, tied his thumbs together and hung him from a beam. Then the same officers started to assault his feet and legs with a pole and a hose pipe. While he was being tortured Niroshana was questioned about the theft of a gold chain from a villager on the night of 25 May 2010. This was the night on which Niroshana returned home and remained in the company of his family and mother.

Niroshana was surprised and denied the accusation. He pleaded with the officers not to assault him anymore and told them that for entire night he was at his home with his mother and the other members of his family. Further Niroshana pleaded with the officers to go and question his mother and the other family members on his whereabouts.

Ignoring his pleas the officers then brought him down and retied his thumbs behind his back. Then using a rope he was again hung from the beam. In this position he was again assaulted.

Niroshana understood that he was being brutally punished by the officers for no reason. Later he learned that the police officers had gone to his home and questioned his family members on his whereabouts on the night of 25 May. His mother and the others affirmed that Niroshana was, in fact, with them for whole night.

Niroshana was detained in the police station from 26 to 29 May. On each day he was tortured by the police officers in similar manner. On 27 officers brought back him to the back of the police station where they aimed a high pressure hose pipe at him. This was extremely painful and even then Niroshana was surprised about the barbaric cruelty of the police officers who were still trying to force a confession out of him.

While in the police station Niroshana leaned the names of the police officers who tortured him as Police Assistant Gamini, Police Constable Bandara and Police Constable 82100. Further Niroshana states that the OIC of the station was fully aware about the way he was subjected to cruel torture and that he did not take any action to stop it. Further he states that the OIC personally encouraged the officers to continue torturing him.

Later Niroshana leaned that his mother and few other relatives had visited the police station on 27 in the early morning at around 7.30am but the officers on duty refused to let them meet him. They did, however, accept the food that they had brought for him which he never received. Further he leaned that an Attorney-at-Law also visited the police station and met the OIC but he was given any indication as to when they would either release Niroshana or produce him in court. Then again on 28 May Niroshana's mother and his Aunt visited the OIC and questioned him on Niroshana's situation. The OIC promised that he would be produced in court on 29 May.

On that day the police officers forced Niroshana to sign a document that was prepared by them and which was not recorded from him. Further he states that the contents of the document were not explained to him. Due to fear he signed as ordered. Then the officers informed him that he will be taken to the hospital and that he should not tell the doctor anything regarding torture.

The officers brought Niroshana to the Iththapana Government Hospital and produced him before a doctor. When he was brought before the doctor though there were police officers present Niroshana showed all the marks of injuries on his body. However, Niroshana leaned later that the doctor who examined him had not made any note of the injuries on his body caused by the torture. Niroshana strongly believes that the doctor was working in collaboration with the police officers in this case.

He was produced at the official residence of the Magistrate's Court of Mathugama on 29 May where he was accused of stealing a gold chain. He strongly denied the charge. Considering the personal facts on Niroshana the learned Magistrate released him on personal bail.

On the same day Niroshana leaned that his mother had complained to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) also on the violation of his rights. On the same date his relatives immediately brought him to the Nagoda General Hospital. The doctors who examined him on admission admitted him for further treatment. He was subsequently treated there for two days until he was discharged due to the lack of beds in the hospital. Before he was discharged he was examined by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) to whom he explained all the facts of how he was subjected to torture. He was able to show the marks of injuries also to the doctor.

But Niroshana leaned later that the JMO who examined him only mentioned two non-grievous injuries and did not complete a proper report on the state of his injuries caused due to torture. Niroshana strongly states that the even this JMO was working in collaboration with the police officers.

Later on 2 June Niroshana made a complaint to the Police Headquarters on the torture he had endured. The officers there instructed him to go the National Hospital at Colombo but warned him not to inform the doctors about the torture he had endured at the Welipanna Police Station. The doctors admitted him for treatment and Niroshana revealed to them that he was tortured by the police officers. He was discharged on 4 June.

He immediately went to the HRC and made a complaint. There the officers at the HRC referred him to the JMO Colombo for examination. This JMO, Dr. Ajith Thennakon, noted ten marks of injuries due to the police torture. Further, the doctor explained that the marks of injuries tallied with the history of the torture that had been inflicted at the Welipanna Police Station.

The Colombo JMO referred Niroshana to the Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Fernando for further treatment. This consultant noted that Niroshana was showing all the symptoms of severe trauma. He recommended several sessions of Trauma Counseling Treatment.

Niroshana filed a fundamental rights violation application before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka with number SCFR/ 378/2010. The case was supported in the court and leave to proceed was granted by the Supreme Court on 8 February 2011. Leave to proceed was granted in respect of the violation of his fundamental rights including the right not to be tortured guaranteed by the constitution.

While the case was supported in the Supreme Court the counsel who appeared on behalf of Attorney General (AG) vehemently opposed Niroshana's application. Niroshana states that the AG of Sri Lanka, as was the policy during the past did not oppose the applications concerning torture where there was enough credible evidence of torture. The AG followed the policy of the State of Sri Lanka which adopted a zero policy on torture and so that his department would not appear on behalf of torture perpetrators.

But when Niroshana's application was supported AG neglected and throws that policy away and opposes his application. Niroshana states that he leaned in many resent cases the AG presently adopted this new policy of opposing the individual applications of torture victims in courts. Further Niroshana states on this occasion the AG wanted to protect the torture perpetrators and support their impunity in the country. Further he states that the AG did not properly stand up to his duty which was to indict and prosecute the perpetrators under the provision of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act, No. 22 of 1994.

Niroshana appeals to all the national and international authorities to take all possible steps to protect his rights and all possible measures to provide justice against the suspect police officers.

Further Nisoshan state the doctors who examined him at Government Hospital of Iththapana (later identified Dr. W G Chandralatha) and General Hospital of Nagoda neglected their duty as doctors and worked in collaboration with the police officers in his case.

The experiences of the victim can be viewed from the video.

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