Public servant fights against corruption, inhuman assault and suspension

(May 14, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) According to the information, Mr. Nelson Hettiarachchi (31) of No: 24/B, Thalahena, Negombo in the Gampaha district was a Property Bailiff attached to the Municipal Council of Negombo. Nelson was attached to the Thalahena Sub Office. After joining his carrier he earned all the necessary merits for his proficiency and worked with a high degree of discipline. His work and conduct was at all times admired by his seniors and peers.

While he was serving in the Sub Office of Thalahena he learned that there had been cases of corruption. He carried out some investigations with the assistance of some other officers and collected much documentary evidence. Further he learned that the corruption was ongoing and involved several officers. The corruption had led to severe loses in revenue to the government. He decided that something needed to be done and he made a formal complaint to the Municipal Commissioner at the head office of the Negombo Municipal Council. He believed then as now, that it was his as a public officer to take this course of action.

Several months later some officers of the Municipal Council came to the Sub Office and inquired about the complaint. They questioned a few of the officers at the Sub Office directly who were suspected of being involved in the above mentioned cases.

Meanwhile one day the Municipal Councilor, Mr. Anton Jawaweera, phoned him and threatened Nelson that if he continued to disturb the work of the Sub Office then he would face future consequences. But Nelson decided not to step back in his efforts to expose the corruption and fight against it.

On 26 April 2011 while Nelson was in his office a messenger came to him and informed him that Municipal Councilor Anton Jayaweera was waiting to meet him and asked him to go with him to his office. As Nelson was at one time threatened by Jayaweera he was reluctant to go. But the messenger forced him.

Then Councilor Anton asked Nelson the reason for interrupting the work of the Sub Office of Thalahena. Nelson explained that he had never interrupted the officers but had complained to the relevant authorities regarding several cases of corruption for which there was credible evidence. He further told Jayaweera that it was the Municipal Council that started the inquiries not him. Then the Councilor began to shout at Nelson in a degrading manner. Without warning or cause he then slapped Nelson. At the time there were a large number of officers and people from the general public gathered there to meet officers of the Municipal Council. Nelson felt shamed and humiliated and eventually returned to his office.

Nelson immediately went to the Mayor of Negombo and made a complaint regarding the assault and the violation of his rights by the Councilor Anton Jayaweera.

On the next day morning at 10am the accountant of the Municipal Council (Revenue) Ms. Anuradha, phoned Nelson and instructed him to hand over all the official books to the Chief Clerk, Ms. Malini of her office. Nelson went to Ms. Anuradha and explained what really happened and explained that it was him who was assaulted and blamed in degrading manner for executing his official duty. He further explained that he was punished for making complaints against certain cases of corruption that had happened at the Sub Office Thalahena. Then he further explained to Mr. Anuradha that he had not been given any written notice on the suspension of his work. He asked for written instructions to hand over the official books which were in his custody. This was refused but a letter informing him of his suspension was issued.

Later on 29 April Nelson went to the Local Government Commissioner to make a complaint regarding the violation of his rights by Jayaweera. Then he was able to make a complaint to the Assistant Local Government Commissioner Mr. Pramarathna. Further the Assistant Commissioner of Local Government instructed Nelson to make a complaint to the Negombo Police Station regarding the assault. This was duly done the evening of the same day.

On 2 May Accountant (Revenue), Ms. Anuradha called Nelson and informed him that there was a letter for him and to come and accept it. When he went her office he was given a letter issued by the Municipal Commissioner accusing him that he had interrupted the work of Councilor Anton Jayaweera and also the work of the Sub Office Thalahena. The letter further instructed Nelson to meet the Urban Commissioner and have a discussion.

On 4 May Nelson went to meet Municipal Commissioner to his officer. There he observed that Councilor Anton Jayaweera was also present. The Councilor started to accuse Nelson that he has blamed him and interrupted the duties of the staff at the Sub Office. Then Nelson tried his best to explain that he totally denied all allegations and stated that it was Councilor Anton who assaulted and blamed him in a degrading manner in front of a huge crowd. Further he explained that he has never interrupted any officers at the particular office and only officially complained on certain cases of corruption after finding credible evidence. Further he informed him that due to Councilor Anton's influence Nelson's work had been suspended without any legitimate inquiry. Further he informed that his service was suspended also without inquiry and proper written order. He also stated that his service was suspended arbitrarily and only afterwards was a letter issued to justify the suspension. He further stated that he believes his suspension was a punishment for fighting against corruption.

Source: The Asian Human Rights Commission

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