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SRI LANKA: Workers strike to protest against Moratuwa police


August 30, 2013

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA: Workers strike to protest against the Moratuwa police for torturing a partially disabled colleague

Last week a shocking story was revealed in the media. On August 21 2013 P. Chandana Thushara Peiris, (32), the father of one child was arrested by the Moratuwa police and severely tortured to force him to confess to having possessed bombs and having committed several other crimes. When the family learned about the arrest they visited him at the Moratuwa Police Station and found that he had been severely wounded. The police later took him to the Lunawa Hospital where he was admitted. The family's assertions that this man was innocent and known to have an excellent reputation in his work place and the community was ignored by the police who insisted that he was a bad criminal.

The family complained of this to the Mayor of Moratuwa who knew Chandana Thushara as he was employed by the Moratuwa Municipal Council as a labourer. He had worked in that capacity for several years. The Mayor immediately intervened and informed the police of his personal knowledge Chandana Thushara and his admirable record. It was then that the police released him. Later W. Samanlal Fernando, the Mayor of Moratuwa, gave an interview to the media saying that, "P. Chandana Thushara Peiris is an innocent, trustworthy young person, like a child, It was out of compassion that we gave him this job,.....He is trustworthy and innocent, and therefore we say that what has happened to him is terrible and the police are wrong to have done this". He went on to say that Chandana Thushara was a partially disabled person. He had won the confidence of everybody in his workplace and was entrusted with work that involved the security of the offices due to his reputation. The Mayor severely condemned the police action.

His mother, talking to the media said that her son was slightly disabled in that he has trouble hearing and difficulty in speaking. She said that she found that four policemen from the Moratuwa Police Station had cuffed her son's wrists and ankles, beaten him up and burned him with cigarettes. When the media questioned the Officer-in-Charge of the Moratuwa police on the allegations of torture his reported reply was, "It is normal procedure to question people after we arrest them. Even if relatives say the arrested people were beaten, where is the evidence to prove it? They need to prove it. We cannot stop investigations because of these claims. We don't beat people who haven't done anything wrong".

The workers of the Moratuwa Municipality went on strike when they heard about the attack on their colleague by officers of the Moratuwa Police Station.

Comment/Candid admission by the OIC of Moratuwa

As quoted above the OIC of the Moratuwa Police Station admitted the assault on Chandana Thushara and went on to say that it was normal procedure of the police in questioning people. The Asian Human Rights Commission published a book entitled, Narrative of Justice in Sri Lanka told through stories of torture victims, in which 400 cases of torture are revealed. In each of these cases it was "normal procedure of the police to assault the suspect, even before questions were asked". The OIC admitted torturing the victim by saying, "We don't beat people who haven't done anything wrong". He, like other police officers seemed to be unaware of the law which prevents him from torturing anyone under the threat of punishment of seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10,000/=. His ignorance may be due to the fact that this law is no longer implemented now. Besides, the superiors of these officers encourage them to continue in the practice of torture.

A further aspect of this normal procedure is that whenever a weak person falls into the grip of the police they try to attribute all their unresolved cases piled up at the station on this person and attempt to fabricate charges against him. To achieve this purpose the police assault the victim until becomes so helpless that he would confess to anything. Thereafter the police claim that the confession obtained is clear proof of the success of their investigations. Thereafter, reports are filed in courts and officers even get promoted on the basis of their 'successful investigations'.
ends

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