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Open Letter: Notorious Torturers In Sri Lankan Police

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the Inspector General of Police

( July 26, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian ) We reproduce below a letter sent by the Executive Director of Asian Human Rights Commission to the IGP about two cases of torture by a team led by Sergeant Basnayake, who is an OIC in the Unresolved Crimes Division of the Crime Branch of Chilaw police station.

Re: Complaint about notorious torturer Sergeant Basnayake, Unresolved Crimes Unit, Crime Branch, Chilaw

We wish to bring a notorious torturer to your attention. And, we wish to do so by highlighting two cases, which have incidentally received some public attention, via the media and other sources.

The two cases involve acts of torture committed on Mr. Edirisinghe Devayalage Sanjeewa Edirisinghe, resident of No. 164, Heen Agara, Panirendawa, Chilaw, Puttalam District and Mr. Wathuthantreelage Presly Fernando, who is also from Chilaw.

Torture committed on Mr. Sanjeewa Edirisinghe by a team led by Sergeant Basnayake included:

• Assault at the point of arrest, in front of his ailing father and other family members;
• Further assault at the Chilaw police station that involved the application of chili on victim’s sexual organs, eyes, and other sensitive body parts;
• Hanging from a roof beam and further assault, due to which the victim now suffers from nerve damage in both of his arms, and is unable to use either arm;
• Urination on the victim’s face;
• Continuous assault for over three days, which have caused terrible injuries to the victim;
• Threats of assassination if the victim were to visit a hospital for treatment after release on bail. The victim did not visit a hospital for treatment for a few days as a result; this aggravated his injuries. Later, he admitted himself to the Chilaw hospital. He was immediately transferred to the Ragama hospital, where he was examined and began treatment as an in-patient. According to medical reports, he has suffered extensive nerve injury; a long period of treatment will be needed for him to be able to use his arms again.

Sergeant Basnayake led assault and injury of Mr. Presly Fernando involved the following:

• Assault at the point of arrest, in front of his wife, who, upon witnessing the assault, fell unconscious and recovered only after treatment. She continues to suffer from a mental breakdown as a result of the assault;
• Assault at the police station, and in a certain room where he was held, over three days;
• Assault following hanging from a roof beam, as a result of which the victims suffered damage to a shoulder and is unable to use his whole arm;
• Further assault with sticks, with boots, and with Sergeant Basnayake sitting on victim’s chest;
• As a result of the assault, the victim became unconscious. The victim has since learned that even after he lost consciousness Sergeant Basnayake kept on assaulting him;
• Threat by Sergeant Basnayake that the victim should not avail treatment at any hospital. The resultant fear delayed victim’s treatment of injured shoulder and arm, now taking place at the Chilaw hospital.

In both these cases, the victims have spoken openly about what happened. Their testimonies can be viewed in the following YouTube links:
Sanjeewa Edirisinghe: (watch here)
Presly Fernando: (watch here)
The Asian Human Rights Commission has received further reports that Sergeant Basnayake has a long record of torture, which he has practiced in his earlier assignments. For example, the torture committed by him when he was attached to the Puttalam police station.

We are writing to you to request the following:

1. That immediate arrangements be made for the protection of the two victims, under the supervision of a senior police officer.

2. That the families of the two victims receive immediate assistance. Both victims are persons who work using their physical skills: one as a cycle repairman and the other as a driver. As a result of the torture inflicted by the police, they are both unable to work. Without their breadwinner, the families have been pushed into destitute poverty; they are unable to even feed their children.

3. That an independent and credible inquiry into the two incidents of torture, as well as on the whole record of Sergeant Basnayake, be conducted, through a special unit of inquiry from the Criminal Investigation Division, under the CAT Act of Sri Lanka, which is Act No. 22 of 1994, and that measures be taken to prosecute this notorious torturer and other members of his team.

We hope that this information provided to you will lead to action from your side, which will result in relief for the two victims and the immediate removal of a notorious torturer, who currently continues to serve as a member of the Sri Lankan police service.

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