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SRI LANKA: Journalist arrested and severely tortured by Panadura Police — Asian Human Rights Commission

[MISC, Friday, 20 May 2011 13:03 No Comment]

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that Mr. Niroshan Premaratne, a professional journalist attached to the Independent Television Network (ITN) of Wickremasinghe Pura, Battaramulla, Colombo was illegally arrested and severely tortured by police officers attached to the Panadura Police Station on 8 May 2011. While Niroshan was driving with his wife and brother-in-law they were stopped by police officers and brought to Pandura Police Station. When Niroshan tried to inform his senior management regarding the illegal arrest two police officers started beating him. Shortly afterwards he was released and admitted to the Panadura Base Hospital who in turn transferred him to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital. He suffered several contusions to his face and one tooth was broken as a result of the beating. This case is yet another illustration of the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in the country where persons are tortured and extrajudicial killed in police stations and journalists have become fair game.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Niroshan-Premaratne According to the information the Asian Human Rights Commission received Mr. Niroshan Premaratne, a professional journalist attached to the Independent Television Networks (ITN) of Wickremasinghe Pura, Battaramulla was subject to arbitrary assault by two police officers at the Panadura Police Station on 8 May 2011.

In the morning Niroshan had gone to participate at a family event at Wadduwa with his wife and his brother-in-law following which they travelled back to Colombo in his vehicle. Some officers of the Motor Traffic Unit of the Panadura Division pulled him over on charges of driving his vehicle while disobeying Police orders. But Niroshan states that he did not see the signal which the police officers said they had given him. Instead of carrying out the necessary investigations after taking him to the Panadura Police Station the officers tried to lock up him in the cell. When Niroshan tried to inform his senior management of the situation using his wife’s mobile phone two officer of the Motor Traffic Unit brutally assaulted him. This assault was witnessed by his wife and brother-in-law.

Niroshan was not charged and after the assault he, his wife and brother-in-law were released. He was admitted to the Panadura Hospital and thereafter transferred to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital. As a result of the beating he sustained injuries to his head and face and one tooth was broken. He also said that his gold chain and mobile phone had gone missing following the incident.

Following the assault the Inspector General of Police (IGP) ordered a special investigation and the two police constables have been suspended over their alleged involvement in the assault. However, it is apparent that there will only be an internal inquiry into this incident and it is unlikely that any prosecutions will take place.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported innumerable cases of torturing innocents by the Sri Lankan police which are illegal under international and local law which have taken place at different Police Station in the country over the past few years.

The State of Sri Lanka sign and ratified the CAT on 3 January 1994. Following state obligations Sri Lanka adopted Act number 22 of 1994 the law adopted by the Sri Lankan parliament making torture a crime that can be punishable for minimum seven years and not less than ten years on being proven guilty. The Attorney General of Sri Lanka is suppose to file indictments in the case where credible evidence were found on torturing people by state officers.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, torturing by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country for misusing powers of a state. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department. Further, please also request the NPC and the IGP to have a special investigation into the malpractices of the police officers for abusing the state officers’ powers.

Please note that the AHRC has also written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on this regard.

To support this appeal please click here:

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