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SRI LANKA: No action on rape complaint against chief monk

February 7, 2013

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

SRI LANKA: No action regarding the complaint of rape against the chief monk of Shanti Viharaya, Kalaniya

The Asian Human Rights Commission has written to the Inspector General of Police with regard to the inaction of the Sri Lankan police to arrest a suspected rapist and to urge him to take action in this matter.

Mr. N.K. Illangakoon
Inspector General of Police
Government of Sri Lanka
Police Head Quarters
Colombo
SRI LANKA

Fx: +94 11 440440 / 327877

Ref: AHRC - STM - 031-2013

Dear Sir,

Re: No action regarding the complaint of rape against the chief monk of Shanti Viharaya, Kalaniya

I refer to my letter dated February 1, 2013 regarding the rape of a 43-year-old woman by the chef monk of the Shanti Viharaya in Kalaniya.

The victim complains that she has been taken to the police station at Peliyagoda, to the Shanti Viharaya and several other places. However, so far, no action has been taken to arrest the suspect monk or to proceed with the case. The suspect feels that there is an attempt to hush up the case and to leave the monk free. According to the victim she has overheard the police officers at the Peliyagoda Police Station saying that there have been other complaints against the same suspect monk but no action had been taken as he had on other occasions, assisted the police.

The victim also complains that her treatment at the police station shows extreme insensitivity towards a woman who has been subjected to such a devastating and emotionally and psychologically disturbing experience as rape. She says that the chief investigating police officer and even some women police officers who were asked to participate while she was interrogated made jokes at her expense and was using the occasion for their entertainment.

On one occasion the questioning took place over a period of six hours. However, nothing had been written down. She was asked to attend another day and then the same questions were put to her by a woman police officer. The narrating of a rape experience is a traumatising event for a woman and today in many countries police officer is specially trained to deal with such victims with great care and also not act in a manner to re-traumatise the victim. It appears that none of the officers who have dealt with this case have shown any influence such training. In fact, her impression of their behaviour is that most of the time they acted in a vulgar manner.

This incident has happened on January 4, 2013. She has made a complaint in the early morning of the next day. She was warded at the Ragama Hospital for one week and examined by a Judicial Medical Officer. The JMO provided a certificate confirming the examination and also gave the reference to her file which she has already submitted to the police. She has been taken to the scene of the crime and was able to point out all the material evidence which collaborate her version of the events. The police have also taken her blood stained clothes. With all the evidence available the suspect has not been arrested, questioned and produced before a court. Any other suspect would have been arrested with much less evidence and produced in court. Now the police also have 48 hours of investigation however, none of these powers have been utilised to enforce the law.

Meanwhile the police have also tried to create the impression that the victim is not of sound mind. The police officers have gone to neighbourhood houses to inquire about her and also called her former husband for recording a statement. The questions put, suggest that they were trying to make out the case that she is not of sound mind with the view to undermine the credibility of her statement.

You will have seen that in the Sunday Times there was a report that there are five reported cases of rape reported everyday in Sri Lanka. The deterrence of such a crime depends on the capacity and the seriousness with which the cases are investigated and prosecuted. This incident demonstrates that such kind of seriousness or capacity is not demonstrated by the officers who deal with these cases.

We urge that urgent intervention be made to ensure justice for this case and at the same time, as Inspector General of Police make a serious review of the manner in which the police department deals with rape cases. Perhaps as is done in some countries taking advice from psychologists on dealing with rape cases and providing some psychological training for your officers would help in dealing with the rape epidemic that the country is faced with. Neighbouring countries like India after some recent unfortunate incidents have even brought about new legislation to deal with rape cases in a more serious manner. The Sri Lankan people surely deserve no less.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Bijo Francis
Interim Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Visit our new website with more features at www.humanrights.asia.

ENDS

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