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A young man's complaint of imminent threat to life

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An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the Inspector General of Police and the Secretary, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

Dear Sirs,

SRI LANKA: A young man's complaint of imminent threat to life

Re: A young man's complaint of imminent threat to life due to a powerful businessman working hand-in-hand with the OIC of the Ja-Ela Police Station -- an Open Letter to the IGP and HRCSL

(September 05, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) We are bringing to your notice an allegation of serious threat to life and deliberate refusal to carry out the duties of the police relating to serious assaults, attempted abductions and several other complaints by a young man living in Ja-Ela. His basic complaint is that due to some unfortunate but simple misunderstanding, a millionaire businessman of the Ja-Ela area with several criminal elements is harassing him and his family members. Further, the OIC of the Ja-Ela Police Station is ignoring his complaints and instead filing fabricated charges against him, his mother and an uncle.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is bringing this matter to your kind attention and requests your urgent intervention to ensure protection for the complainant his family and for a thorough inquiry into the conduct of the Officer-in-Charge of the Ja-Ela Police Station and about the practice of filing fabricated charges by the police.

The details of the case are given below:

Twenty year-old D.K.K.S. Seshan Fernando of No. 22 St. Mary's Road Ja-Ela is complaining that his life is under severe threat due to a powerful businessman aided by some police officers pursuing him with white vans to abduct him and also by using criminal elements to severely assault him which, in his view is with the intention of killing him.

The cause of all this is an incident which took place on May 25, 2011 when Seshan went to a shop, Wasantha Motors, to buy spare parts for his motorcycle. A person at the shop told him that they were closed and therefore they would not sell any spare parts. However, at the time the doors of the shop were still open and Seshan explained that since he was going to work the next day could they please consider giving the spare parts he required. Then two persons shouted, "Do you not understand what we told you?" Then without warning they started to assault him. A third person alighted from a car and asked what was happening. He also struck Seshan who then ran away.

The next day he went to his job and his brother went to the shop to get the spare parts. His brother was detained in the shop and an uncle, Roshan, had to go to the shop and rescue him. On the same day a group of persons arrived in a white van at Seshan's house and inquired as to his whereabouts from his mother. His mother in turn inquired as to why they were looking for Seshan and they replied that the director of Wasantha Motors is taking treatment at the Intensive Care Unit because Seshan pushed him, causing him to strike his head on some concrete. On the evening of the same day (26th), another group of people arrived at the house and threatened Seshan's mother who then made a complaint to the Ja-Ela police the same night.

On the June 7, 2011 the Officer-in-Charge of the Ja-Ela Police Station made a telephone call to Seshan's mother asking her to come to the police station at 9 am the following day to inquire into her complaint. When she arrived at that time she was detained at the station until 7 pm. During this detention two persons whom she believed to be criminals arrived at the police station. On the instructions of the OIC of the station the OIC of the Petty Offenses Section recorded that her complaint had been brought to a settlement and got the mother to sign it. Thereafter, the two other persons were sent away but Seshan's mother was kept at the station until Seshan would be presented at the station. After detaining her that night a case was filed against her in the Magistrate's Court of Kunuwana for harbouring a criminal, meaning her son, Seshan.

Five days later Seshan's Uncle Roshan who had earlier rescued his younger brother, was also charged at the same Magistrate's Court for making death threats. The case is still before the court. Seshan believes that this charge was filed as an act of revenge against his uncle for intervening on his behalf. Thereafter, as the police were looking for Seshan he surrendered himself to court. Regarding this there is a case pending until now.

On August 9, 2011 when Seshan was going to work a group of people came in a van with tinted windows and tried to kidnap him but he managed to escape and run away. Seshan complained about this matter through the Emergency Hotline, 119, and this is recorded in the CID ii at page 390/127. In that complaint the vehicle number is given as WPGX 9511. The Ja-Ela police did not conduct any investigation into this complaint. A further complaint was made at the Peliyagoda Police Station on August 11, 2011. Regarding this complaint also there has been no investigation.

On August 29 at around 5:15 pm when he was walking to a bus to return him after work five persons who arrived in a LandCruiser that did not have a license plate attacked Seshan, striking him on his hands and legs with iron poles. As they were attacking him Seshan managed to run back into his workshop. From there he was taken in a vehicle belonging to the workshop to a nearby hospital and from there he was transferred to the Ragama Hospital. A complaint regarding this matter was made on the same day to the Seduwa Police Station and the incident was also reported to the OIC of the Ja-Ela Police Station. However, once again, no action was taken in this complaint also.

Due to a coordinated action of the OIC of Ja-Ela Police Station and a millionaire businessman, Seshan complains that his life is under threat. The OIC, according to Seshan, is working hand in glove with this businessman. Seshan believes that the owner of the LandCruiser that delivered the five persons who attacked belongs to the same businessman. Seshan further complains that the OIC is protecting the criminals and is making fabricated charges against him and his relatives instead.

Seshan has informed the matter to human rights organisations and requested them to intervene in order to protect his life.

The AHRC kindly requests your urgent attention into this matter, particularly with the view to save the life of the complainant and to prevent interference with justice allegedly by the OIC of the Ja-Ela Police Station.

Thank you.
Basil Fernando
Director Policy & Programme Development
Asian Human Rights Commission

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