23 May, 2024


Breaking The Tradition Of Lifetime 

By Tush Wickramanayaka –

Tush Wickramanayaka

There is no keener revelation than a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children – Nelson Mandela 

Historical first record of the brutal murder of four children in 1814 – “One single instance of no distant date will be acknowledged to include everything which is barbarous and unprincipled in public rule, and to portray the last stage of individual depravity and wickedness, the obliteration of every trace of conscience, and the complete extinction of human feeling. In the deplorable fate of the wife and children of Ehalepola Adikari these assertions are fully substantiated; in which was exhibited the savage scene of four infant children, the youngest torn from the mother’s breast, cruelly butchered, and their heads bruised in a mortar by the hands of their parent; succeeded by the execution of the woman herself and three females more, whose limbs being bound, and a heavy stone tied round the neck of each, they were thrown into a lake and drowned.” — Extract from Sir Robert Brownrigg’s (the Governor) official declaration to the Kandyan chiefs after the taking of the Kandyan country. 

The Evolution 

A fundamental universal fact is that all living beings nurture their young and protect them from harm. What distinguishes humans from other animals? Charles Darwin believed we are similar to animals and merely incrementally more intelligent as a result of our higher evolution. Our conscience and higher intelligence are the most influential distinguishing factors of Homosapiens.

He would be seriously re-evaluating this theory if only he knew the rapidity at which convicted murderers on death row are released in Sri Lanka.

The island paradise of Sri Lanka, aka Thambapanni, Serendib, Ceylon, Pearl of the Indian Ocean, also evolved through 72 years of independence to its current state of wannabe Wonder of Asia, Democratic Socialist republic of Sri Lanka. A truly magnificent political pickle led by an Executive President who is not a Member of Parliament and immune to legal jurisdiction who enforces incomprehensible powers to release convicted cold blooded murderers.

Rewind November 2019

Jude Jayamaha from a wealthy high profile family was convicted to 12 years in prison. He murdered a Swedish teenager in 2005 outside of her family apartment.  His subsequent appeal against his jail term was rejected and he was sentenced to death instead, a sentence upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014. The victim’s sister, Caroline Jonsson, said the killer had shown no remorse. Lock him up and throw away the keys, the people rejoiced…

In November 2019, Maithripala Sirisena as outgoing President caused a devastating shock by pardoning Jude Jayamaha, ‘Royal Park’ murderer. The island paradise was stunned on a Richter scale of 7.0 – Simply outrageous. 

Slow Motion 1991 To 2000

Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Child Rights Convention (UNCRC) in 1991. In December 1996, the Presidential Task Force on child protection was appointed under the patronage of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the only Head of State that did substantial amount of work to protect our children. 

One of the most important recommendations of the Presidential Task Force was the establishment of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), by Act No.50 of 1998 under the Presidential Secretariat. In the year 2006, under the leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, NCPA was transferred under the purview of a separate ministry established to ensure proper protection and welfare of children and women.  The downfall of child protection commenced soon afterwards. 

The failures of Police, Judiciary and Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) in protecting children and promoting their rights have resulted in frustrating inadequacies and lengthy and painful progression of inquiries. 

By the end of 2017, there were over 17,000 cases of child abuse stalled at Attorney General’s Department dating back as long as ten years. This figure is believed to have risen over 20,000 by end of 2018. The victims have lived a life of hell tormented by the horrendous memories without any hope of justice.

In January 2018, in the concluding observations of the UNCRC on the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Sri Lanka, serious concerns were raised at the lethargy of child protection by the Government of Sri Lanka. 

This is further endorsed by the alarming rise of complaints received by NCPA.  In 2010, NCPA received a total of 3892 cases staggering to a total of 8558 by end of 2019.

Since 1992 Sri Lanka has held 6 Parliamentary Elections and elected 6 Executive Presidents and 12 Prime Ministers with no significant improvement in child protection.

Chief Government Whip of the newly established pickled government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka declared to Parliament that 142 incidents of rape, 42 cases of serious sexual abuse and 54 cases of child abuse have been reported from various police divisions in the country in the first 15 days of 2020. Hurray! Unsurprisingly, the pickled onions cheered as the numbers were sky rocketing. 

Fast Forward March 2020

Army Staff Sargent Sunil Ratnayake was found guilty of 15 offences and sentenced to death by a Trial-at-Bar comprising of three High Court Judges in 2015 of the murder of eight unarmed civilians including four children, one of whom was just 5years old. They were found brutally slain in an empty well in 2000. His appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed by a five-member bench of the Supreme Court in 2019. Lock him up and throw away the keys, the people rejoiced…more profusely!

However, on 28th March 2020, the release of Ratnayake, ‘Mirusivil murderer’, rocked the Covid-19 ravaged island paradise on a Richter scale of 8.9 – People fumed in disbelief. A difference of one represents an approximate thirtyfold difference in magnitude.  

Amnesty International was quick to condemn President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision. Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has called on the Presidential Secretariat for public disclosure of documents pertaining to the release: Report of the Trial Judge, Advice of the Attorney General and Recommendation of the Minister of Justice.  

Social media has been ablaze and much has been written about this. It seems like the top man is engulfed by amnesic paralysis of all senses when ruthless killers are released to society without any qualms, the proceeding man competing to beat a time line as if to supersede an inferiority complex.

But, why all the fuss when it appears to be the normal practice to make a mockery of the justice system and de-robe the learned members of the judiciary by each Executive President.

Unlike a man imprisoned for life, a man on death row does not receive rehabilitation within the penal correction system. Our children are in imminent grave danger by releasing murderers capable of heinous crimes.  THAT is the missing key!

When jungle law prevails, our animal instincts kick in to protect our young. The successful registration of the first ever Communication (Appeal) vs Government of Sri Lanka Submitted For Consideration Under the First Optional Protocol To The International Covenants on Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR) at United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) will give hope to 5 million children in Sri Lanka.

Reignite the citizens to devour the pickled onions and demolish the putrid coconut that govern the island paradise – make Mr Darwin proud!

*Dr Tush Wickramanayaka, Chairperson, Stop Child Cruelty Trust

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Latest comments

  • 3

    SL has bigger issues to worry about.

    Pitting Tamils against the military will only hamper Covid-19 operations and kill millions of Tamils. This is a time to support the good work of the military and the government.

    • 6

      Sri Lanka should be able to handle a few “worries” at a time.

      This issue would not have been a “worry” had this terrible leadership released a brutal murderer, who belongs in jail for his heinous crime. What does it say about the President? He has a record of rewarding, appointing, and releasing, violent murderers and war criminals.
      What signal is he sending around the country, and the world by doing so? He is only confirming that the brutality shown by the SL military is true, and that he supported it.
      Now that killer walks among our population.

    • 1

      El Presidente may think that the military is the answer to all his/our problems.

      With little Covid-19 he has another think coming his way.

    • 0

      Rajapaksa to release thousands of drug dealers and murders for votes and election funding while using COVID 19 as an excuse.

      “Thousands of drug offenders to be released”

  • 8

    By letting loose the dogs of war will only worsen the COVID19 pandemic.

  • 4

    Politics in SL is all about playing to the gallery. The larger vote base being Sinhala Buddhists, all politicians from SWRD to the present, have played the race & religious card successfully but now it has escalated to even defying the justice system, although, in the unrelated case of Sirisena pardoning a possible psychotic murderer without apparently a psychiatric evaluation or legal advise on subsequent implications & precedence, is either sheer ignorance or personal benefit in some other form. The bottom line is that those holding the ultimate power in SL are only second to god (if god exists). The writing on the wall is plain to see that under GR, it’s going to be a military regime with a bunch of alleged war criminals, who would facing prosecution otherwise, supporting an autocratic President doing it ‘his way’. Of course, if the SL people are happy with such a ‘firm’ leader (as many of my SL friends are) & willing to forgive & forget allegations of massive corruption & abuse of power in the past, who am I to make comments?.

    Incidentally, after viewing a recent TV documentary of Putin, who is now constitutionally allowed to be President until 2036, I couldn’t help noticing the parallels between current Russia & SL.

    • 5

      The release has been done during the Release of COVID 19 so that it may get lost with the Coronavirus. Perhaps there are more to come before COVID 19 ends- will it?

    • 6

      You are right. It is in the middle of some crisis, that the strongmen seek to manipulate the Constitution, the rules of law, and the removal of judges, which give them more power, and enables them to achieve just what you have stated. The signs are all there. Sri Lankans are naive when it comes to the Constitution, what democracy should be like, and are easily duped into compliance. Looking back at the country the last time this lot was in power, the signs were all there, and those who stood up to them, including Judges, were demonized by politicians, and some media, and removed.

  • 1

    Did these people come out to the street and shout when Demala LTTE barbarians snatched children as young as seven years from their parents, gave an AK 47, put cyanide capsules in their neck and sent them to the front line to kill Army soldiers? According to UN, LTTE had about 3000 child soldiers. Nothing happened to these War Criminals. The International Community and UNHRC are deaf and blind to these war crimes.

    • 1

      Great. You should get Karuna Amman arrested first, especially, with all the dirty works he’d done for the state using his paramilitary of child soldiers.

      • 2

        Time has come for the citizens of this country to change our Presidential system. Any criminal can get away with any crime. Jude Jayamaha and Sunil Ratnayake must be laughing their sides out while our Supreme Court has been made impotent.

        • 0

          “Time has come for the citizens of this country to change our Presidential system.”
          Plato have I read any other comments of you in CT? Anyway when, do you plan to do that, Plato? Give me call when you are ready. I have a pick iron and mammotty. I bring them to help you.
          (Whatever you are talking about did not happen even in Chandrika’s time. You are making loud noise now? Please go to bed and take a good rest)

  • 1

    Typical Colombo bubble talk from the author.
    Up in praise about a war criminal former president, Chandrika Kumaratunga, who bombed killing and orphaning many Tamil children with her war for peace. How many would have forgotten Chemmani mass graves and Krishanthi?

  • 2

    Dr Tush Wickramanayaka

    Thank You for your timely reminder.

    The past few generations allowed our Paradise Island to be turned into a hell.

    The present ‘post-war’ children deserve a break from the horrors of the past. We elders need to protect them, nurture them, and allow them the chance to build a better Sri Lanka.

    Allowing animals loose is not the answer.

    Turning a blind eye to those who abuse children will bring curses . . .Here is the current state of play: (1) – In the 3-week period between 16 Mar – 7 Apr 2020, the proportion of child cruelty cases as a total all reported child protection complaints, rose from 10% to 40%. (2) SLPP Thanamalwila PS member R.A. Ranaweera and four others have been arrested and remanded in connection with the alleged rape of a 13-year-old mentally retarded girl. A senior police official said that the suspects were remanded till April 16 after having been produced in the Embilipitiya Magistrate’s Court. He said the suspects had allegedly raped the girl from Kiriwewa area at times for more than three months and that she was admitted to Hambantota General Hospital.

    If we are to pardoning properly convicted criminals, why bother with a criminal justice system?

    Those who are working on safeguarding children have their work cut out.

  • 1

    Does anyone expect Justice from a War criminal president? Won’t be surprised if Sunil Ratnayake is given a promotion after recruitment or even a consulate to a far away country. That is Justice.

  • 0

    Minister Vijayakala talked about Tamil children’s and women’s dire situation under Rapist Army controlled Avakuzhu. She said if leader Pirapaharan comes back only they can be protected. That is beyond contestation because from 2010 Army is using Avakuzhu to destroy North. The message has not come up to Kotte-Colombo for them to control the rapist Army. Even in the current heavy Curfew, Army masking them as Aava & are breaking houses and stealing while people inside the houses. But Vijayakala lost the minister position for saying that.

  • 0

    I don’t subscribe to the notion that we have a barbaric military. I have read different accounts of the North-East conflict, some fiction, some fact presentations by both sides on the conflict. The truth is somewhere in the middle. There is no doubt whatsoever that plenty of people suffered and plenty of children suffered and traumatized who are now in their adulthood (if they survived); Child abuse was probably masked during the war times, due to the government’s inability and LTTE’s disregard to the protection of the child – with child soldiers recruited to fight a meaningless battle for some power greedy lots of both sides. Like in any establishment there are bad eggs, very bad eggs and good eggs. I can see that some commentators here black mark the entire military for the release of this murderer. That approach isn’t helpful, as you will only end up making it political and draw less attention to the specific matter at hand. Just like every Tamil is not a terrorist, every Sinhalese is not a hater of tamils/muslims, every muslim is not a subscriber to radicalism , not every man/woman in the military are murderers.

    There is no need to brand and tarnish the entire military on this one. That defeats the problem Dr. Tush is drawing attention to. The problem of Children not been treated right. The problem of Children been subjugated to violence. The problem that Children are not safe. The problem that Children doesn’t get justice served.

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