The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has issued a directive to prison authorities to take all possible measures to protect the life of former CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera who was recently transferred to a quarantine facility at a military installation after allegedly testing positive for the corona virus.
In a letter to Prisons Commissioner General Thushara Upuldeniya, HRCSL said that it had received several complaints expressing grave concerns for Abeysekera’s safety and threats to his life after reports surfaced that he had contracted corona virus while in remand at Mahara Prison.
For days Abeysekera remained untraceable with prison authorities refusing to reveal information about where the former detective had been transferred for treatment.
Colombo Telegraph learns that following interventions on behalf of Abeysekera by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) the former CID director’s whereabouts were confirmed as being the Gallella army camp in Polonnaruwa. News of his transfer to a military run facility have sent shock waves because several of Abeysekera’s more recent investigations into attacks against journalists and abduction rackets have involved high ranking members of the Sri Lanka Army and its Directorate of Military Intelligence. The military has made no secret of the fact that Abeysekera is in its crosshairs for investigating dozens of army and navy officers involved in the Lasantha Wickrematunge assassination, the Prageeth Eknaligoda abduction, the Rathupaswela killings and the kidnapping of the 11 young men by a gang of navy personnel. Several of these cases have led to indictments in the High Court by the Attorney General and if convicted these officers could face jail time. The election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019 has led to the promotion of many of these military officials facing charges for heinous crimes and they have grown in influence over the past year.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka noted that it was closely monitoring the complaints received regarding fears for Abeysekera’s safety and recommended that if the former CID chief had indeed been diagnosed with corona virus he should be transferred to the nearest covid19 treatment centre for medical attention.
“We urge you to devote your urgent and immediate attention to this complaint and take every step necessary to protect the life of a person in your custody” the HRCSL letter to Upuldeniya states.
The Commission has requested a response from the Commissioner General of Prisons regarding what security steps have been taken on or before November 30, 2020.
Complaints were filed with the Human Rights Commission by the Association of Young Journalists and others, regarding Abeysekera’s safety.
The HRCSL directive comes as a group of victims of grave human rights abuses and violent crimes sent a separate appeal to Attorney General Dappula De Livera, urging the department to step in to ensure the safety of an investigator that has been key to successful prosecutions by the AG over several decades including presently ongoing prosecutions filed by the department.