Colombo Telegraph

Torture Continues In Sri Lanka: Terrorist Investigation Division Tortures Two Tamil Brothers

This case is yet another illustration of the exceptional misuse of the powers bestowed on state agencies, particularly the Terrorist Investigation Division.

According to the information that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received Mr. Ganeshan Pushparaj (32) and Ganeshan Govi (30) of Odinton Estate, Lindula, Thalawakalle in Nuwara Eliya District has been detained for more than 4 years and 10 months. Pushparaj and Govi are brothers.

Ganeshan Pushparaj

After leaving school Ganeshan Pushparaj worked at the Odinton estate as a laborer. He married Parimala Devi on 16 November 2003 and lived in the same estate. They have a son, P. Sadushan who is now aged 7.

On 15 October 2008 Pushparaj was taken by officers attached to the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the Kandy Headquarters Police Station. At the time they promised that they would record a statement from his and send him home. When the officers took him he was not given any explanation of why they wanted a statement from him.

However he was detained at the Kandy Police Station until 23 December, 2008 (199 days with detention orders) at the TID branch and later transferred to the Hanguranketha Police Station.

During his detention, he was severely tortured and forced to sign blank papers and documents, pleading guilty to crimes that he had never committed or was involved in. He was finally produced before the Magistrate of Teldeniya, the Magistrate of Panvila and the Magistrate of Matale on fabricated charges following which he was detained at Bogambara Remand Prison. Later Pushparaj learned that the Attorney General has filed another two cases again him. The two case numbers were: HC/83/2013 and HC/25/2013. He remains in remand prison due to the constant delays in the hearing of the cases.

Pushparaj’s brother Ganeshan Govi (30) was also arrested on 22 December 2008 following the arrest of Pushparaj and was detained at Katugastota Police Station. Govi has been continuously detained until now. Later he learned detention order No: EER 41/2011 was issued to detain him by the authorities.

Ganeshan Govi

During his detention, he was severely tortured and, similar to his brother, was forced to sign blank papers and documents, pleading guilty to crimes that he never committed or was involved in. Later he was produced before the Magistrate of Matale and the Magistrate of Kandy also on fabricated charges. Now Govi is also detained at Bogambara Remand Prison. He is not married and worked as an electrician. Their mother R. Marudai is living and working at the estate.

Pushparaj was treated in Kandy Teaching Hospital since he was severely tortured by the police officers attached to the TID. Govi also sustained injuries due to the severe torture he suffered in police custody.

The Attorney General also filed one case against him before the Kandy High Court. But the Judge of the High Court released him from that case. However again he learned that another case has been filed by the TID officers at Matale Magistrate’s Court on the 17 June, 2013 against him. So he is therefore still in remand.

Their mother Murudai says her sons were arrested for no reason and detained with fabricated charges. Pushparaj states that he visited his uncle R. Muttusamy who was living in the Northern Province when he was severely ill from old age in 2008 as a ritual and religious tradition. Pushparaj further states that immediately after their visit their uncle died. Pushparaj and Govi’s mother Murudai states that both her sons were detained because they could not pay the TID officers the bribe they demanded for the release of her sons.

Murudai states that she learned that the Kandy TID officers have taken money from families of detainees who have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, amounting to sums of up to Rs. 2 million to either release them or frame lighter charges. Pushparaj and Govi appeal for Justice and fair trial.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported innumerable cases in which innocent people have been illegally arrested, detained and tortured by state agencies. Torture is illegal under international and local law.

The Asian Human Rights Commission received several hundreds of cases where innocent people have been illegally arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA). This act has been used by state authorities to conduct mass arrests and detain people indefinitely without producing them before a court of law. Furthermore, this law allows authorities to prosecute the suspects with voluntarily recorded confessions. As a result of these legal provisions, the AHRC has observed hundreds of cases in which suspects who have severely tortured, are forced to sign blank documents or documents which have not been explained to them for use as confessions in court.

The AHRC has issued several Urgent Appeals in recent years calling for justice for the detainees who were illegally arrested and detained under the PTA. The basic principles of rule of law are not respected within the legal system of Sri Lanka. These draconian laws curtail the civil liberties and fundamental human rights of the people of Sri Lanka.

The State of Sri Lanka sign and ratified the CAT on 3 January 1994. Following state obligations, Sri Lanka adopted Act number 22 of 1994 making torture a crime punishable with a minimum of seven years and not less than ten years in prison, on being proven guilty. The Attorney General of Sri Lanka is supposed to file indictments in the case where credible evidence is found of people being tortured by state officers.

SUGGESTED ACTION: 
Please write to the Sri Lankan authorities expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, illegal detention, torturing by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country for misusing powers of a state. The victim must be released from the prolonged arbitrary detention immediately. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department. Further, please also request the NPC and the IGP to have a special investigation into the malpractices of the police officers for abusing the state officers’ powers.

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