19 April, 2019

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Suspects Of Statutory Rape Of A Minor Remain At Large

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

A mother of a 14 year old girl made a complaint to the Haputhale police, that her daughter had been abducted by two men who were the conductor and the driver of a private school bus that takes children to school. The girl was forcibly taken to the driver’s house and despite of her pleadings to let her go the driver then raped her.

The girl was later taken to a judicial medical officer at the Diyathalawa Government hospital and in his report the JMO confirmed that the girl was raped.

After the complaint was made to the police station, the accused driver and the conductor were both brought to the police station and where the girl identified both of them as the culprits of the abduction and the rape.

However, to the utter surprise of the family of the young girl, both suspects were released on the same day and they now remain at large. The offences of statutory rape and abduction are non-bailable offences.

The family of the girl have complained that they suspect foul play on the part of the police as the driver is relatively an affluent person in the area and the girl belongs to a family of estate workers, from a Estate in Haputhale. Ethnically estate Tamils, they are a devoted catholic family, well known to the people and the parish priest in the area. The family believes that their weak economic position as estate workers and their minority status ethnically and by way of religion is the cause for neglect of their complaints by the local police. The Assistant Superintendents of the police of the area have also been informed about this crime.

Investigations into crime is a primary obligation of the State. Investigations into serious crimes such as statutory rape and kidnapping are imperative duties of the police acting on behalf of the state. The failure to investigate and to prosecute such serious offences threatens the very idea of the state itself. If the State fails to investigate and prosecute serious crimes, the very legitimacy of the existence of the state is itself being challenged. The challenge to the state in this instant comes from the local police station and its superior officers such as the Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs). It is the duty of the IGP and the Government to take the officer in charge of the Haputhale police and the ASP who is supervising this police station to task, immediately and take appropriate action to investigate this crime.

As the two accused in the rape and kidnapping has been identified and have even been brought into the police station, and were thereafter released, creates a reasonable suspicion that some kind of foul play is involved. If, the suspects of serious crimes can escape by way of resorting to bribery or to any other such influence, the entire social order is threatened by such actions.

However, neglect of investigations into serious crimes, has become a common feature in Sri Lanka. It is only when a crime turns into a scandal and much publicity is generated, that some kind of intervention takes place particularly in the rural and remote areas.

We wish to illustrate the serious nature of the obligation to investigate and prosecute crimes by distinguishing from the manner in which even most difficult cases are being pursued by the police in countries where rule of law is maintained as compared to this case.

The BBC Radio English Service, today reported, a case that took place in London when a few months ago, a body of a man was found on an early morning on a hill. When the police were informed and arrived at the scene, they found the body but despite a thorough search they could not find any way of identifying the person as there was no identity cards nor credit cards on the person, nor any other means by which the person could be identified. Forensic examinations later showed that the death was due to taking poison. Though the obvious conclusion was one of a suicide, the matter did not end there. The investigating officers having found only train tickets in the clothes of the deceased, attempted to trace the origin of the journey of the deceased through the tickets. They found that the tickets have been issued at a particular station in London. The investigators examined also the cameras of that particular train station on the basis of the timing of the journey indicated by the train tickets. They were able to find some photographs of the deceased through station cameras. However, none of these could lead to the identity of the persons. The investigators spend a lot of time, in the vicinity of these areas looking for any clues about the identity of the person. However, they could not find any indication of the deceased or a missing person in that area. By now, several months have passed but the investigation was continued. As there was nothing to indicate the name of the deceased the investigators named the body in the mortuary as Neil. Just to give it some identity and to also pay respect as a human being. On further examinations the only noticeable mark on his body was an iron plate fixed onto the ankle which indicated some surgery in the past. With careful examinations of this iron plate the investigators were led to the conclusion that such iron plates have been manufactured in Pakistan. With that evidence, the investigations shifted to Pakistan. They have been then able to find the particular company that makes such iron plates and are now looking into few hundred persons who have had such surgeries in order to establish the identity of this person. The investigation is still ongoing and the investigators indicated in their interview with the BBC, that they were hopeful that they will be able to establish the deceased person’s identity and hopefully his story.

If you compare such an investigation into a person whose identity itself cannot be established with the case we have from Haputhale where the suspects of statutory rape and kidnapping have been brought to the police station and have been identified by the victim, and still left at large – it is not difficult to expose the contrast of the seriousness with which an investigation is been pursued by the investigators in London and those in Sri Lanka.

Understanding of this contrast is very essential to grasping the extent to which lowering of the standards have taken place within the Sri Lankan police with regard to investigations into serious crimes. What that indicates is how the very moral standards in the country regarding the value of life and regarding the obligation of the state to prevent crimes have degenerated so much within Sri Lanka.

The investigators in London who were pursuing that case for months were not doing so out of a sense of pleasure or of adventure. They were merely carrying out the duties that have been assigned to them with an understanding that on the carrying out such investigations, lies the sense of security of citizens.

What is even more shocking than the neglect by the police, is the societal acceptance of this neglect by the people at large. We do not see the kind of outrage that is provoked elsewhere when the police and the law enforcement agencies neglect their basic duties. Such a neglect on the part of the people is possible only when the moral standards have reached a very low ebb in a society. This should be a matter of serious concern for all those opinion makers and others who are concerned with the future of Sri Lanka.

Should we allow our police to kill our freedom? That question must be asked, particularly when people are suffering from such police neglect, like the family in the Thotugala estate. If the weakness of such a family is that they are young, can be kidnapped and raped, and if the rest of the society keeps silent the entire community pushes itself into a position where they make themselves deserve the humiliating manner in which they are being treated. Those who keep silent when the poor and the weak are being trampled upon have no reason to complain when they themselves will one day be trampled upon.

The new IGP has spoken about the need for a people’s friendly policing. However, it needs to be pointed out that such friendliness is not merely a publicity stunt. It is not for smiling policeman that people are looking for. They look for those who carry out their duties with seriousness. What the people demand is that their policing service should not pave way for a societal breakdown.

Would it then be wrong for the family of the victim in Haputale to feel that they have been completely let down by the country’s premier law enforcement agency and its government?

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Latest comments

  • 13
    2

    It will take a long while for the Ethos of Immunity, sponsored by Corruption, Wealth and Politics of the previous Government, to be erased from Our Culture!

    • 8
      2

      How could you associate every issue of the society to previous (MR) Gov? Ill treatment for the poor and minorities was the norm even in the West 40~50 years back. Sri Lanka has long way to go.. But you could go forward only if you could identify correct root of the problems and trying to eradicate it.

      • 5
        1

        AVB,

        You suggest “But you could go forward only if you could identify correct root of the problems and trying to eradicate it. “

        Here is a clue on the root cause.

        When Governments promote and send your wives, mothers, sisters and daughters to wash Arab backs in far away lands, and promise even more “Porin jobs” of that caliber to win elections, and to earn foreign exchange to buy Aston Martins for princelings, would you really have to look elsewhere for the root causes of social ills?!

        Try and elect Governments capable of using national resources to better the country without destroying families, cultures and societies. Or you can blindly choose to elect Governments that dupes you with “Porin jobs” while faking sovereignty concerns, mahavansa based fantasies and faked threats, deceitful patriotism of language and religion and such immaterial obsessions, only because they have no clue about good governance and means of social and economic development.

        As the age-old wisdom goes, you get the Government you deserve!

    • 6
      3

      This is Sri Lankan style good government and rule of law enforcement!

      And they want to conduct war crimes trials without foreign judges. How can Tamils expect any justice from the dysfunctional local justice system?

      • 1
        0

        “…war crimes trials without foreign judges…”

        Thiru,
        ‘Foreign Judges’ who are trying to Justify their own Biases against those whom they indiscriminately call ‘Terrorists’?

    • 2
      1

      Oh I didn’t realize that police inaction and brutality was invented by the previous government, what about 1972 era ? Or 89/90 era?

    • 6
      0

      Basil Fernando

      RE:Suspects Of Statutory Rape Of A Minor Remain At Large

      “After the complaint was made to the police station, the accused driver and the conductor were both brought to the police station and where the girl identified both of them as the culprits of the abduction and the rape.”

      “However, to the utter surprise of the family of the young girl, both suspects were released on the same day and they now remain at large. The offences of statutory rape and abduction are non-bailable offences.”

      Now they are free to rape more girls.

      This is called Sinhala “Buddhism”. Have they learned from the Monks raping little boys?

      Two Buddhist monks accused of physically abusing child

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwQAfZySsfE

      Podi Hamuduruwo and Loku Hamuduriwo abuse Child- Sinhala “Buddhism” style.

  • 20
    0

    Dear Basil Fernando,

    I have no time to go in to this, but I’m so glad that you are takeing this up. I saw another account of this story a few hours ago, and saw it had not even drawn a comment.

    I’ve lived in Bandarawela well nigh all my life. I know that this account (and I haven’t yet read your blog) is probably authentic. We have to be ashamed of ourselves for not doing more to get animals like this bus driver fellow and his conductor (I’m remembering the details from my earlier reading of the other account) punished severely. I hope you succeed.

    Thanks for the many good things that you’ve been doing for so long!

    • 9
      0

      Sinhala_Man,

      While I appreciate your condemnation of the driver and the conductor, those who committed this heinous crime, I think you are overlooking an even greater sin and culprit here.

      We need to investigate and take very serious action on the Police, from the constable all the way to the officer in charge, if they had indeed for failed, denied, misinformed and obstruct the legal rights of the citizenry as provided by law.

      If the cops are allowed to pick and choose, then they become the greater threat to the society, even more so than the criminals them selves. It is that flexibility and privilege that result in politically motivated wrongful arrests on one hand, and letting murderers and criminal scot-free for their political powers, on the other hand.

      The only sure-fire way to contain crimes is to ensure that the guardians of the law are impartial, responsible and act with integrity – when that is compromised, they need to be severely punished. Else, the police merely serve the powerful and citizens will be pushed to disrespect law, and crimes will flourish. If the experience in Jaffna in the pre-LTTE period does not teach that lesson, nothing will!

      • 3
        0

        With authority comes accountability. Its sad but Sri Lankans are really good in wanting authority but many don’t even understand the word accountability.

        Policing is not an easy job and they are supposed to serve and protect so the question comes back to their vetting in recruitment and training thereafter. This will reduce the problem but will not eliminate it so once again it comes back to accountability to weed out the bad apples.

  • 6
    0

    Rape, extortion, thuggery has become a way of life in SL now. The Police in general are lethargic, inefficient & racist & can no longer be expected to protect citizens & maintain law & order. Corruption flows from the top down.

    A few months ago, while holidaying in SL, I was stopped by the Police around midnight when returning home after visiting a friend, apparently on a routine check. Having checked my driving license & vehicle documents, one of the officers accused me of being after liquor & as he had no breathalyzer equipment with him, he said that I will have to be taken to the Police station for a blood sample. I agreed as I had not consumed any alcohol but then the policeman said that I will have to be kept at the station till morning for the Doctor. A friend of mine who was in the car at the time, then explained to the Policeman that I was going back the next day & didn’t want the hassle, therefore, willing to pay a fine & since I was pushed for time, whether he could pay the fine if we gave him the money. His tone changed immediately & agreed to do us the favor & my friend gave him Rs 3000 to cover the ‘fine’ & for his time. As a parting remark, one of the officers said that it was after all only taxi money home for us after a good time while they had to be on duty for hours in the night.

    I felt some sympathy for them after that remark & even though I was annoyed with my friend because it was a form of extortion & the fact that we gave in but I had to agree with him that wasting time in a Police station for hours was not a practical option. I am sure everybody else does the same thing in the circumstances but by accepting this type of corruption as ‘a way of life’, I can’t help myself thinking that we are encouraging corruption just because we find it inconvenient to stand up for what is right.

    • 8
      0

      Honestly, Raj, you felt “sympathy” for the guy because he had to be on duty all night!

      I agree with most of the rest of what you say, but we’ve got to get tougher on fellows like this.

      Also, the third visit to Jaffna in my life was about a month ago. I felt that there are far too many security forces in the North. It is indeed a difficult balancing act for the government, but we Sinhalese must understand that we have to work very hard to ensure that Tamils want to remain with us in a United Sri Lanka.

      Thanks to the Hoole brothers who are doing so much to make us aware of the plight of Tamils. There is a good deal of poverty in the South, it is true, but we don’t live in fear – at least not for the last eighteen months.

      This business of foreign judges, though; although this incident reveals how little our system of justice can be relied on, please don’t do such things as will allow the racists to make anything even close to a “come-back”.

  • 1
    0

    Where is the moral crusader Chandra Jayaratne?[Edited out]

  • 4
    0

    now we wait until, BBS comes out and screem that the minority conspiring with the media to harrase the poor singhalese buddhist civilians of the area. Then the whole thing will be discussed under different scope: is the minorities disturbing the life style of the native population and the offence itself, in this case abduction and rape, will become secondary. Well done Sri Lanka.

  • 7
    0

    Basil, what a terrible state of affairs. In this instance can a lawyer be appointed to act for this girl and get justice meted out. If action can be filed against the culprits I think we should do this. Obviously funds may be needed to fight this case and raising this money to start legal action will not be a problem. There are many people including the writer who are willing to organize a fund to take action against the rapists as well as the police officers who are responsible for dereliction of duties and corruption. If you can give me your private email address we can start the ball rolling.

    • 1
      0

      I appreciate your readyness to help the victim by mobilizing funds for a legal process. I think this should be a later step. I would prefer that all low abiding people have the right and duty to bring this matter to the higher positions in the justice and govt. write letters, mails to the bar association to the supreme court to the PMs office and inform the president. First we shouldget the media on our side to create big attention and awareness in the society. I belive and hope the civil courage of the public can put more pressure in seeking justice. Collect signatures on behalf of this victim and send publicly to the PMs office. Lets see if the pillars of the power has somuch back bone to take up this matter.

  • 7
    0

    Terrible thing to have happened to this poor girl. Hope the crimes against her won’t go unpunished.

    Rape and statutory rape should be bail-able offenses so the accused won’t disappear too easily (although in this case, with the rape being obvious, the courts had a right to place the accused in jail till their proof of guilt/innocence had been established).

    It seems that courts tend to release suspects, due to fear of reprisal if suspects are placed in jail before trial. Therefore if there is bail for these kinds of offences, then intimidation by local elements towards the justice system will be down to a minimum.

    • 3
      0

      Your comment approved this time by me, may I correct your obvious typo:

      “Rape and statutory rape should be bail-able offenses”

      ought to read:

      “Rape and statutory rape should be NON-bail-able offenses”

      I’m sure your heart is in the right place, although your brain isn’t! I’m still waiting to see the bit of analysis that I set you. All that you said was that you imagined me to be eating huge platefuls of rice, and lording it over the villages.

      In actual fact, I know the Thotulagala school, and I know the appalling conditions that still prevail in the line rooms.

      • 4
        0

        These offenses should carry high bail amounts, so the suspects won’t disappear too easily. If they do disappear, the courts can claim the bond money (and that will be a natural deterrent on suspects disappearing).

        • 5
          0

          ramona grandma therese fernando

          “These offenses should carry high bail amounts,”

          How could these heinous crimes being committed in an egalitarian society?

          Do not need high bail amounts but needs the little bit of moral high ground.

          This could only take place in a caste-ridden society, exercising brutal power over women, and a society void of any morality or moral principle.

          • 0
            3

            Yes, this is indeed some of the culture India rubbed off onto us…..(although we’re still far less worse)

            • 4
              0

              RTF, why do you keep picking on India?

              Wasn’t Gauthama also Indian, or do you want to make him Nepali?

        • 3
          0

          Yes, thanks.

          I see that you’ve been making distinctions that I hadn’t even thought of.

  • 3
    0

    Police Commission seems to be sleeping. In the past few months I saw many instances of favouritism or inaction by police when the offender is politically connected or is affluent or otherwise influential. If the police does not wake-up to the fact that it is a new era, they must be jolted awake by the Commission.

    • 0
      0

      Prabath,

      “Police Commission seems to be sleeping.”

      They have many cases and usually need a complaint to act.

  • 2
    0

    ASPs Hold The Key To Change At Police Stations……….

    It appears this too is a problem.
    What next?
    AHRC takeover the running of Police ?

  • 1
    0

    Ranil/Sirisena could force the authorities to act with a single telephone call. But these sobs like the sobs before them are more concerned about power and priviledge to worry about a minor matter like the rape of a child. When their time comes may they both rot in hell.

  • 2
    0

    Has the writer confused as to what is Statutory Rape and Rape. Abduction and Rape clearly is a Rape and not a Statutory Rape. Statutory Rape is the sexual Relationship with a Minor who is below the age of Consent and Use of Force / threat is not usually present.

    Why does it important? Because in a statutory Rape use of Force / Threat is not usually present and may Attract lesser Punishment than in a Rape case.

    • 2
      0

      Thanks, Lemuria.

      But I think that most people today, and very definitely Basil Fernando, ARE aware of that distinction. It’s just that this is both offences together.

      My first comment was made in a hurry. What this case tells us about law enforcement in our country (i.e. Police and Judicial System) is damning.

  • 1
    0

    Police hierarchy is still keeping quiet?

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

    How couid police take action ?????????
    Probably when the influence reached the yahapalanaya in badulla?

    Police are helpless when that influential phone call is received by the police.
    there is nothing the police can do. Who likes to get intimidated by politicians or get thransfered overnight or when the future is at stake when time is up for promotion.

    Police hands must be tied. Or else they would not have released the suspects.
    THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOME POWERFUL COMPULTION ON THE POLICE FOR THEM TO ACT SO.

    The person who should push for action is the Yahapalanaya’s badulla Digital.
    Digital is silent on this issue.

  • 1
    1

    IS BASIL FERNANDO FANNING RELIGIOUS HATRED OR TENSION?
    why is the Digital minister quiet being a catholic?
    qUOTE ; “Ethnically estate Tamils, they are a devoted catholic family, well known to the people and the parish priest in the area.”

    THIS IS WHAT BASIL FERNANDO HAS WRITTEN.

    bad enough the country is struggling for racial harmony
    BASIL FERNANDO HAS AROUSED RELIGIOUS TENSION.
    What is basil fernando’s hidden agenda? TO CAUSE A RELIGIOUS BACKLASH?

    • 3
      0

      Dear thondamanny,

      It may be that Basil Fernando is a Catholic; as for me, I definitely am NOT! I’m pretty fed up with most organised religion, but what you quote from Basil F. does NOT amount to fanning religious hatred.

      Yes, Harin Fernando is an M.P for the Badulla District, and Haputale is in this District. Also, he’s made quite an impression in the District DESPITE the religion that he was brought up in. Also, he’s from some place like Wattala, although his still living father-in-law is an almost forgotten politician from Badulla. I HAVE met Harin F. once; impressed with him? Yes, but the number of votes he got is amazing. He got one of mine, but it is difficult to fathom all the pressures on a politician. Religion OUGHT to be a very personal thing, and not some label that you stick on.

      However, the very poor (well, I’m poor, but not very) and unsophisticated DO take religion very seriously, and the parish priest will, hopefully, do something about all this. There’s much that appeals to me about Pope Francis’ attitude: “Who am I to judge?”

      But we certainly must condemn and judge these cops, the driver and the conductor – to protect people like this poor girl.

  • 0
    0

    This is a problem of the system. Everyone knows the root cause but, they don’t want to change it.

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