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A 17-year old boy is physically and sexually assaulted by intoxicated police officers

(05 July, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) According to information that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received, Mr. R M Chamara of C/o R M Karunawathie, Periyamadu, Andigama in Puttalam District was physically and sexually assaulted by a group of intoxicated police officers for a crime that he did not commit. Mr. Chamara is 17-years old and is in training to be a motor mechanic.

On 27 May 2012 at about 7pm, Mr. Chamara's neighbour, Mr, Asoka, along with one of Mr. Asoka's relatives, visited Mr. Chamara to tell him that they could not find several pieces of jewelry (total worth Rs. 10,000) and believed that Mr. Chamara had stolen the items. Mr. Chamara denied the allegation, and his father spoke further to Asoka and his relative on Mr. Chamara's behalf.

On 28 May at about 9am, Police Officer Jayapathma (41510) of Pallama Police Station visited Mr. Chamara's home and recorded a statement regarding the theft. Later that day, at around 7:30pm, ten officers dressed in civilian clothes from Pallama Police Station visited Mr. Chamara's residence. Three of the officers arrested Mr. Chamara. As they led Mr. Chamara away from his home, one of the officers (who shall be referred to as Officer X and can be identified by the victim through an Identification Parade) put his hand around Mr. Chamara's neck and said "I have a son like you. If you tell us the truth, we will release you now." However, Mr. Chamara maintained his innocence. The officers took him to the Pallama Police Station.

On the way to the police station, the officers stopped to buy beer at a liquor shop, where another officer from Pallama Police Station was waiting on his motorcycle. According to Mr. Chamara, Officer X told the officer on the motorcycle to keep ropes, a pole and a bottle of petrol ready at the station. Officer X asked Mr. Chamara about the stolen items again, and Mr. Chamara, once again, maintained his innocence. Officer X responded that he would make him vomit the stolen items.

Mr. Chamara was taken inside the police compound by several officers who were consuming alcohol, and was told to sit on the bed. They again asked him to tell them the truth, and threatened to hang him from a ceiling beam if he did not comply. When Mr. Chamara insisted that he was innocent, Officer X removed Mr. Chamara's clothes, and tied his hands together with his sarong. He then used wooden poles to hang Mr. Chamara across two chairs. Even though Mr. Chamara pleaded for them to release him and maintained his innocence, the officers hit his heels, shoulders, backside and ears. Then, a police officer inserted the empty bottle of alcohol into Mr. Chamara's rectum. They officers tried to pour petrol into Mr. Chamara's rectum, but were dissuaded from doing so by Officer Jayapathma, who said that he knew Mr. Chamara's aunt.

Mr. Chamara's aunt and another relative tried to visit him at the police station that evening, but were turned away. According to information we have received, Officer Jayapathma assured Mr. Chamara's aunt that he would not be tortured. After Mr. Chamara's relatives had left, the police officers ordered Mr. Chamara to do exercises. However, due to the severity of his injuries, Mr. Chamara was unable to do the exercises. He was unable to sleep, or even lie on the ground, due to the extent of his injuries.

On 29 May at about 7:30am, Mr. Chamara was taken back to the room in which he was tortured, and was handcuffed to the bed. At around 10am, Mr. Chamara's parents and aunt visited the police station, and this time, the officers permitted them to see their son. Mr. Chamara told his family that he had been hung up and brutally assaulted for a crime that he did not commit. Despite his family's requests, the police officers did not release Mr. Chamaraa.

On 30 May, one of the police officers who had tortured Mr. Chamara wrote a statement on a piece of paper and told Mr. Chamara to sign it. The officer did not read the document to him, nor did he allow him to read it. Due to fear of further abuse, Mr. Chamara signed the document.

Later that day, Mr. Chamara was produced before the Puttalam Magistrate Court. He was accused of stealing his neighbours' jewelry and was remanded for seven days. He was released on bail on the seventh day. Shortly after he was released, Mr. Chamara was admitted to Chilaw Basic Hospital for medical treatment of his injuries. He has not fully recovered as yet.

Mr. Chamara's family has filed an official complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP). None of these authorities have initiated a credible, impartial investigation into the abuse Mr. Chamara suffered abuse at the hands of state agents, which constitutes a blatant violation of his basic rights. Mr. Chamara and his family seek justice for the crimes committed against him. They call for his rights enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka to be upheld.

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