16 October, 2021

Blog

Amending Torture Act: Minister Of Justice, This Is Window Dressing For The EU!

By M.A. Sumanthiran

M.A. Sumanthiran PC MP

Thank you Hon. Deputy chairman of committees for the opportunity to speak a few words at the very important debate when the Hon. Minister of Justice has presented to the House amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, and to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act, and certain Orders for approval. I must thank the Hon Minister for remaining in the House after presenting these Bills and listening to the various comments that are being made on this matter. The matters that have been placed before the House are very, very important and serious in nature. What we see in the amending Act, in both the amending Bills, we welcome, because it seeks to make it obligatory on magistrates to visit Police stations and if I heard the Hon. Minister right, not just the Police stations but also other detention centers and examine and see whether the detainees are properly treated, particularly with the view to ensuring that there is no torture or other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment meted out to them. So, on paper its a good move. But one wonders why this window-dressing is being made now? If any of us who are aware of the actual situation with regard to torture in this country, would wonder why this amendment is being placed today? So much for shouting from the rooftops that we are protecting our sovereignty, we are not bowing down to international pressure and all of that, but all of these façades are being built and I don’t know who you are trying to fool.

The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act was passed in 1994 and we have various researches that have been made with regard to the efficacy of this Act. 26 years of this Act has seen just 9 convictions, 6 of which are under appeal. Very recent research publication by Law and Society Trust says that there were only 47 prosecutions – only 47 prosecutions! Less than 0.1 % of the complaints that are made. And one knows that even the complaints are only about 10, 20% of the actual happenings. For various fears – fears of reprisals, of further mistreatment, of family members being put in Jeopardy, all of those and only about 10 – 20 % actually make the complaint and I just worked out the figures these Act in operation has been a dismal failure. The calculation, a very generous calculation, will show there are only 0.06 % of the complaints result in any conviction. Now how is that to be compared with Article 11 of the Constitution? Article 11 of the Constitution and Article 10 of the Constitution are two provisions that can’t be abridged; that can’t be restricted. Not by law, not by anything, but we have a situation in this country, time and again we have judgements from the Supreme Court finding police officers guilty of torture. There are judgements. The Hon. Minister of Justice, being a lawyer, knows that very well. Every volume, every single volume of law report has judgement of the supreme court finding police officers guilty of the most inhuman methods of torture. But they are not brought before court. You have this act to show people around the world that torture is an offence. Today you are even enhancing the fine, what for? You don’t prosecute them? Why did you waste this paper? Put it before Parliament? You don’t prosecute them. This is to show others. That’s why I called it a window dressing.

Already, over 100 years, the prison ordinance, requires the magistrates to visit the prisons; do they do that? When did the last time a magistrate visited a prison? I am asking this question from the Hon. Minister, because you may put it here, making it obligatory. That is salutary. But how are you going to enforce this? How are you going to enforce a magistrate to visit Police stations and other detention centers? Is there a mechanism to do that? No! there is no mechanism, you already have, for 100 years, I have known one or two magistrates conscientiously have gone and visited prisons but they don’t do monthly, they must do that. They don’t do that and everyone knows that. No mechanism to enforce that. But even if you have a mechanism to enforce that, if the magistrates are not consciences enough, to do what the law has required them to do, can you by force have them do that? No you can’t.

Once a special Rapporteur of the UN on Torture, I remember his name very well, Manfred Nowak, came and visited places of detention. He was an expert in the field. You must read his report, I think the report came about 15 or 20 years ago, but still valid. Because he visited a particular place, then later in the afternoon he visited the place again. And he found people who were there, not there in the morning but  there in the afternoon. He has put it down, “because those who have been tortured, had been taken away and hidden” when he went there announced, so he went unannounced in the afternoon and found them. All of those facts are there. Later, another rapporteur, Mendez, who has given another statement – a report. You allow them to come to this country, because you want to show the world that you are open, there is no torture. Sri Lanka is one of the worst countries for torture by the police.  I’m happy that the Minister of public security is also here now. We are one of the worst countries. You can say this, you can present this, I heard the Minister say, buildings –the hardware, the laws that you have passed is software and he thinks that, that is complete. But where is the delivery, you have made the computer, you have programmed it, but doesn’t work; it doesn’t work, even the power doesn’t come on. In your hardware and software computer. It’s Broke; the whole system Insofar as torture is concerned, your system is broken and you can’t fix it by passing these laws.

One word about the Prevention of Terrorism Act: Torture in this country became an epidemic because of the provision in the PTA that enabled, that allowed, confessions made to police officers admissible evidence that’s how torture became endemic. That’s how police officers lost their ability to investigate offences they no longer had to investigate offences. That skill disappeared long ago, all you had to do was beat up a fellow, or do worse, get his signature. You sought the crime. I have demonstrated, I don’t want to repeat this, I have given stories after stories after stories…where crimes are supposed to have been solved, because you have a confession you convicted a wrong person. But what is dangerous in that is that the real culprit is still roaming free. He’s still there out on the streets. That is what is dangerous about this. If you are only concerned about the National security you say, your National security is gone. Because the one who actually committed the crime is out there, and you have got somebody else, got a confession, and put him behind bars. So even from that point of view, not just the Human rights point of view, not from the Human dignity point of view, even from your avowed National security point of view, it’s a dismal failure. The European Union has passed a resolution that they are withdrawing the GSP plus. Why? Because in 2017 the guarantee was given by the then government that they will repeal the PTA and replace it with another law that is compliant with international human rights standards. Some efforts were made, when they came up with the CTA, I was the first person who publicly announced that this is worse than the PTA. Subsequently it came to various Parliament committees, your representatives also came to see whether it was compliant and we worked on it and various amendments were brought in. it wasn’t perfect but it was 100 times better than the PTA that you have. It was 100 times better, I repeat, a 100 times better than the PTA that are still on our statute books. But it wasn’t past unfortunately, because several of our civil society people thought we must only have a perfect Law, and so we now have the PTA. Because we couldn’t have a perfect law. There were shortcomings in that, but it was far better.

Hon. Lukshman Kiriella mentioned certain matters, confessions cannot be admissible, in our country in this culture, confessions made to a police officer cannot be admissible. Preventive detention cannot be permitted except for a very short period of time, and with Judicial supervision. There are numerous issues with regard to the PTA. Hon. Minister I can tell you very responsibly, you can’t amend the PTA, you have to repeal the PTA, the whole basis, the foundation of that law is fraud, I have said this several times, it was brought for just 6 months, but still bears the name temporary provisions act brought is 1979. You have to repeal it. We also, agree that all the countries in the world has laws to deal with terrorism. We don’t say no to that, we don’t say no to that. But that must be done without……. I agree with you that there has to be a balance, but the balance has to be struck properly. You can’t have article 11 in our constitution and then allow even one person to be tortured. I agree with you on that.

It’s not the numbers… but you did speak about the numbers about the disappeared. And I heard you say that people are bringing allegations that thousands of people have gone missing. People are not making allegations, your own government appointed commissions have said so, leave aside what we say, your own commission Paranagama commission says more than 20,000 people, what have you got to say about that? Your own commission, Udalagama commission says with regard to just the two matters that they inquired into, the 17 aid workers in Muttur and the 5 students in Trincomalee – they have said that. Your own Commission: the LLRC… All those three commissions were appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Have said that persons who were surrendered to the security forces at the end of the war have gone missing, they’ve given the number; 3000-odd. Your own commissions! We had nothing to do with those commissions. When your own commissions have said that tens of thousands of persons have gone missing and not one has been traced so far, not one has been prosecuted for that! What’s the point in saying “People are saying?” You have said it, you have admitted to it. Why can’t you investigate one case?” 11 young people were abducted by personnel of the Navy in Colombo, not because they were involved in anything but for ransom, senior Naval officers were involved in that. You interfered in that, you go after investigative officers in that case, you waylay that case and then you preach sanctimoniously here? That this government will protect the dignity of every one? How do you make these ends meet then?

If you are sincere, I am saying as all involved in that was not sincere, this is just window dressing to the European Union. It’s too late! And I want the European Union and the entire world to know that this is just eyewash! A very week and feeble attempt by this government to try to show that you are International Human Rights Compliant, that will not work. Unless you make a genuine turn, you will not succeed in this false effort of yours. Thank you.

*Speech made in Parliament on the 06th of July 2021 on amendments made to the Convention Against Torture Act

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 31
    3

    Mr.Sumanthiran
    When do you reckon that nice Navy doctor uncle will be pardoned by Nandasena? You know, the nameless one who was arrested for medically ( and in a disciplined manner) examining a 15 year old female. It’s good he isn’t a Muslim like his Maldivian friend, otherwise we would know even his teenage daughter’s name.

    • 35
      2

      Mr.Sumanthiran,
      You ought to have mentioned the mother who was propositioned by the police while making a complaint about her daughter who was raped.
      If 2 good Sinhala Buddhist children are raped by police and armed forces in a month, while there is no war, what would have happened to Tamil girls in the war? The UNHRC knows very well.

      • 2
        10

        old codger,
        Tamil women were raped by IPKF.

        • 8
          0

          Eagle,
          Even they didn’t rape children. Only Sinhalayo ranaviruwos can do that. At least keep quiet if you have nothing to say.

          • 8
            0

            old codger

            “Even they didn’t rape children. Only Sinhalayo ranaviruwos can do that.”

            Please read the full story.
            …………….

            AP Exclusive: UN child sex ring left victims but no arrests
            By PAISLEY DODDS
            April 12, 2017
            …..
            …..
            Here in Haiti, at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers exploited nine children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007, according to an internal U.N. report obtained by the AP. In the wake of the report, 114 peacekeepers were sent home. None was ever imprisoned.
            …..

            https://apnews.com/article/port-au-prince-only-on-ap-sri-lanka-caribbean-arrests-e6ebc331460345c5abd4f57d77f535c1

        • 9
          1

          Eagle Blind Eye

          “Tamil women were raped by IPKF.”

          Are you confirming it or denying it?
          Are you justifying it?
          You do very often deny Sri Lankan War Criminals raping women in this island.
          Are you as usual justifying it?

        • 2
          0

          Evil Eagle were you a witness or victim ???

      • 12
        1

        The whole world saw what lankan soldiers are capable of when they got caught TWICE running child prostitution rings in haiti while serving under the UN forces.
        Sri lanka as a whole pretended those incidents never happened.
        It reveals the collective mindset of the nation.

        • 6
          1

          Humble,
          Another thing that never happened was the monk at the London Buddhist Vihara spending time in prison for molesting a child.

      • 1
        0

        SINHALA BAUDA LANKA

    • 2
      3

      A Muslim Mohomad Ansleen has also been arrested for the same crime.

      • 6
        1

        Gatam,
        Is the Lt. Commander surgeon too important to be named? Is he a Rajapaksa?

        • 0
          0

          This is a sick country
          “Ragama Police, on Sunday, arrested a male doctor for taking photos of a female doctor changing clothes in her official residence at the Ragama hospital.”.

          • 4
            0

            Burt

            ““Ragama Police, on Sunday, arrested a male doctor for taking photos of a female doctor changing clothes in her official residence at the Ragama hospital.”.

            Eagle Blind Eye is rushing to type the following:

            1.This incident never took place.
            2. Blame the victim. Why would anyone change clothe in the hospital (though it is her temporary home, official residence). She should have gone home to change her clothe.
            3. She must be a flasher, who invited others to enjoy their fantasies, reverse voyeurism.
            4. This is a Sinhala/Buddhist country. Sinhala/Buddhists are innocent.
            5. ……..

            • 0
              0

              Native, hope Evil does not claim like in many instance ” I am a witness, I was there”.

  • 5
    39

    Mr. Sumanthiran. Your harangues are like sermons by savages. (veddan kiyana bana vani)

  • 31
    4

    Fortunate to have Mr. Sumanthiran as an MP in this parliament that is inundated with chili powder throwing, chair hurling thugs and thieves.

    This Minister of Justice, Ali Sabry, is a perfect fit for the double-Paksa government.

    Does this government really think it can hoodwink EU with this window dressing? EU parliament is not SL Parliament.

  • 20
    3

    “And one knows that even the complaints are only about 10, 20% of the actual happenings. “

    Hell this even less than the kick-back rate Basil is accused of taking.

  • 22
    3

    Rajapaksas own LOW and ODOR.

    • 1
      8

      Chiv,
      Rajapakshes restored Law and Order by removing LOW and ODOR of megalomaniac Prabhakaran.

      • 0
        0

        Evil , let people who live there tell that not you .

  • 7
    0

    MR.SUMANTHIRAN

    What you said about window dressing is 100% correct.see now what has happened the SLPP PARLIAMENTARY GROUP HAS REJECTED THE PROPOSAL BY MR.ALI SABRI.IF HE HAS SOME SELF RESPECT HE MUST RESIGN FROM HIS MINISTER POST.BUT THAT WILL NEVER TAKE PLACE.

    • 3
      0

      Paragon:
      Give him a break, he just flipped a hat but did not fall in place. If he wanted it done he would have got it done, Seenesena owes him big for keeping him out of jail time.

  • 7
    0

    I can’t wait for the day when Gota’s Buddhist-Military State is officially declared and Venerable Gnanasara Thero is installed as the Chief Justice and Ali Sabry is in a detention centre under PTA and seeking legal assistance from Sumanthiran.

    • 1
      0

      Ajay,
      “Venerable”????? I would have thought “Venereal” more accurate.

  • 1
    11

    Using typical Tamil strategy. Trying to put the blame on Sinhalayo after passing Vaddukkodei Resolution and declaring war against Sinhala nation that led to the bloody Tamil terrorist campaign that slaughtered Sinhalayo for three decades.

    • 6
      1

      Eagle,
      What about Ranaviruwos who rape Sinhala Buddhist children even now?

    • 6
      1

      Eagle Blind Eye

      “Tamil terrorist campaign that slaughtered Sinhalayo for three decades.”

      However, campaign by saffron clad brigades, uniformed imbeciles, crooked politicians, ….. that terrorized the minorities for over one and a half centuries were sponsored by the state for the past 6 decades. You may not aware of these facts because HLD M has been sitting on your head/face for the past who knows how many years/decades?

  • 2
    2

    That will be worse for anti-SL political groups.

    Suppose SL has tough laws against torture in government custody, what will happen? Will SL stop torture of Tamils, etc.? No. Instead the government will outsource torture to pro-government paramilitants, defence contractors, rioters, underworld, foreign parties, etc. If they are ever caught, they too will have these rights. Then UNHRC action becomes totally useless.

    This is what happens in countries with strict anti-torture laws.

  • 5
    0

    Chumanthiran what are you doing about this Chingkallams and Chinese joint companies now coming to the north at Kowtharimunai bay to start sea cucumber farming, without the permission of the local Thamizh or councils and destroying the livelihood of the local Thamizh fishermen and businessmen? Damn good for Hindia they were overtly aiding and abetting the Chingkallams to destroy Eezham Thamizh and despite crocodile tears and concerns for the Eezham Thamizh, yet help and Chingkallams and give lots of aid to destroy Saiva temples in Thamizh areas and Thamizh. Now Chingkallams have showed their gratitude by allowing Sea Cucumber farms in northern Eezham Thamizh waters. Chinese now can fish have fish farms and spy on India from Northern Thamizh Eezham but Indian Thamiuzh fishermen are not allowed and will be killed and attacked if they enter northern Eezahm , by occupying’ racist Chingkalla armed forces. Even many moderate and good Chingkallams who really love the island are not aware of what is happening. Here is the evidence. a video or picture is worth a thousand words
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVRe3d8jJKs

    Chingkallams watch and enjoy what the Rajapuusies are upto. Local Eezham Thamizh fishermen are starving and jobless., whilst Rajapussies and the Chingkalla armed forces are allowing Chinese to steal their resources and wealth in northern Sri Lanka.

  • 7
    2

    Former model is today appointed as Mahinda,s personal coordinating officer. Now that Finance has been taken away from him he sure will need one. What about Basil ??? He may need a few to coordinate his official and unofficial businesses. Now the talk of the town is “we tried MR , we tried GR next time we will try BR and then – – – -“.

  • 6
    0

    Sri Lanka govt has been labelled as an unreliable partner by EU, and contries that value democracy.
    After independance it has been proven that Sri Lankans cannot govern them selves.

    Hope we dont have a situation like Hiti in the near future ……

  • 1
    0

    There are many types of terrorism. What we find today in Sri Lanka is “State Terrorism”. Does this bill address that? What are the safeguards necessary to stop “State Terrorism”? Mr. Sumanthiran you must address this issue and provide amendments.

  • 3
    0

    The torture of Tamils is common place in Sri Lanka. A Tamil person will be arrested and tortured under the slightest of suspicion. The Sinhalese rulers always got away with a ‘slap on the wrist’ from the so called international guardians of human rights. Such is the power of geopolitics,
    Despite their lack of success the human rights activists must constantly highlight the torture being used so readily in Sri Lanka, in particular against the Tamils. That seems to be the only option we have at this point. Thanks to Sumanthiran for highlighting the inclination of the government to inflict torture on weak people.

  • 2
    0

    The main problem is The political leadership in Sri Lanka is run by more and more corrupt and predominantly an uneducated lot.

    The educated lot – Uni – graduates etc have also become a group of YES men and women for their survival. No one is bothered to turn the country around.

    Media is also serving themselves – honest reporters are killed or silenced – The media bossess are politically aligned because of various ulteriour motives.

    Why cannot Sri lankans value human rights?

    Is there some thing in our culture that has gone wrong ?

    Human rights abuses are NOT ok . Why cannot these people get it?

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.