24 October, 2019

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UN Exposes Sri Lanka’s Most Brutal Forms Of Torture And Calls For Repealing PTA

A top United Nations official has called on the Sri Lankan government to repeal the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows for prolonged arbitrary detention without trial, and allows police investigators to use torture and ill-treatment as a routine method of work against suspects. The most brutal forms of torture used by police to interrogate suspects include; beatings with sticks or wires on the soles of the feet (falanga); suspension for hours while being handcuffed, asphyxiation using plastic bags drenched in kerosene and hanging of the person upside down; application of chili powder to face and eyes; and sexual violations including mutilation of the genital area and rubbing of chili paste or onions on the genital area.

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Mende

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Mende

In his preliminary observations and recommendations at the conclusion of his official visit to Sri Lanka on Saturday, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez said that if the government was to replace the PTA (if necessary) with any other legislation, then a robust and transparent national debate should take place that provides for full participation of civil society.

“We understand that the Government is contemplating statutes on National Security, surveillance and intelligence services. Under any circumstance, those pieces of legislation should include protections against arbitrary arrest, absolute prohibitions on torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, provisions for access to legal counsel from the moment of deprivation of liberty, strong judicial controls over law enforcement or security agencies, and protections for the privacy rights of citizens. The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights while Countering Terrorism has produced very useful guidelines to incorporate in legislation of this sort,” Méndez said.

He also disclosed that torture is a common practice carried out in relation to regular criminal investigations in large majority by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police.” In cases where there is a real or perceived threat to national security there is a corresponding increase in acts of torture and ill-treatment during detention and interrogation in Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) facilities,” he said.

While highlighting that fewer torture cases are reported today in comparison to the conflict period with torture methods used at present at times being less severe, Méndez noted that the practice of interrogation under physical and mental coercion still exists and severe forms of torture, albeit probably in less frequent instances, continues to be used.

“Both old and new cases continue to be surrounded by total impunity. In addition, procedural norms that entrust the police with investigative powers over all criminal cases and, in the case of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, allow for prolonged arbitrary detention without trial, are still very much in place and open the door to – almost invite – police investigators to use torture and ill-treatment as a routine method of work. I received many testimonies from victims and detainees who took the risk to speak out, despite concerns either for their own safety or their families. I was able to conduct thorough interviews and forensic examinations in a few cases, with the assistance of a forensic expert that accompanied me during my mission,” he said.

He noted that the testimonies provided to him were truthful and many were substantiated with physical evidence that is conclusive of torture. “The forensic expert conducted a number of medical examinations that confirmed physical injuries consistent with the testimonies received,” Méndez said.

According to the UN official, the nature of the acts of torture consists mainly of transitory physical injuries caused by blunt instruments (essentially punches, slapping and, occasionally, blows with objects such as batons or cricket bats) which heal by themselves without medical treatment and leave no physical scars. He also said that there were also several accounts of brutal methods of torture, including beatings with sticks or wires on the soles of the feet (falanga); suspension for hours while being handcuffed, asphyxiation using plastic bags drenched in kerosene and hanging of the person upside down; application of chili powder to face and eyes; and sexual violations including mutilation of the genital area and rubbing of chili paste or onions on the genital area. “While these methods of torture were in some cases of short duration, in other cases torture occurred over a period of days or even weeks during interrogation,” he said.

Speaking on the lack of accountability regarding investigations into disappearances, he said that based on the estimates the UN team heard, the numbers ranged from 16,000 to 22,000 pending cases of missing persons from the time of the conflict and its immediate aftermath. “Disappearances need to be resolved. Experience shows that disappearances are almost always the occasion for torture of the most horrifying kind, and the prolongation of uncertainty about the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for their next of kin. That is why we hope to see an operative Office of Missing Persons soon that will conduct serious and profound investigations into each case,” he said.

According to Méndez , the Torture Act depends on the discretion of the Attorney-General to file charges under it. “Since 1994 there have been only five or six prosecutions, but not a single conviction yet under the Torture Act,” he said. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph) 

*Click here to read Preliminary observations and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Mendez

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  • 3
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    Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Mende,

    RE: UN Exposes Sri Lanka’s Most Brutal Forms Of Torture And Calls For Repealing PTA

    “A top United Nations official has called on the Sri Lankan government to repeal the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows for prolonged arbitrary detention without trial, and allows police investigators to use torture and ill-treatment as a routine method of work against suspects. The most brutal forms of torture used by police to interrogate suspects include; beatings with sticks or wires on the soles of the feet (falanga); suspension for hours while being handcuffed, asphyxiation using plastic bags drenched in kerosene and hanging of the person upside down; application of chili powder to face and eyes; and sexual violations including mutilation of the genital area and rubbing of chili paste or onions on the genital area.”

    Sir, there is an ancient, 5th Century, Chronicle called Mahawansa, written by a Mad Monk Mahanama, that said the Land is a Faith Island, Dhamma Deepaya, and given only to the Para-Sinhala, the core problem, and exclusde the other Paras, Foreigners.

    So, how can this Great Evil happen in this Faith Island, Dhamma Deepaya? Buddhism?

    Let’s see.

    Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 1

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

    Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcs2PSze0I

    A day in a life – children monks part2

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

  • 8
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    This is the government that calls itself “Yahapalana “. This is the government ,along with their Buddhist -Sinhala supporters who claims that Tamils ,who are the main victims of torture,kidnapping murder and discrimination should accept their “unitary” government and not “federalism”. It is the assumption of this government that they can fool the international society for ever in the name of “sovereignty”. To the majority community in this country, sovereignty means the license to do whatever atrocites they want and no outsider can question them.The army can occupy the lands of poor minority ethnic group, they can arrest any body and charge with “terrorism”, they can fabricate evidence,they can grab the farm lands of the peasants, the army can run businesses,hotels and other commerce thus depriving the ethnic minorities of their livelihood. These are the orders of “Yahapalana”.People have to bow down to their “democratic” rule. No wonder even at the risk starvation, death and oppression the Tamils want Federalism.

  • 3
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    This is the government that calls itself “Yahapalana “. This is the government ,along with their Buddhist -Sinhala supporters who claims that Tamils ,who are the main victims of torture,kidnapping murder and discrimination should accept their “unitary” government and not “federalism”. It is the assumption of this government that they can fool the international society for ever in the name of “sovereignty”. To the majority community in this country, sovereignty means the license to do whatever atrocites they want and no outsider can question them.The army can occupy the lands of poor minority ethnic group, they can arrest any body and charge with “terrorism”, they can fabricate evidence,they can grab the farm lands of the peasants, the army can run businesses,hotels and other commerce thus depriving the ethnic minorities of their livelihood. These are the orders of “Yahapalana”.People have to bow down to their “democratic” rule. No wonder even at the risk starvation, death and oppression the Tamils want Federalism.

  • 3
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    We had vulnerable experience lately. Now no terrorism really.

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    Of course PTA doesn’t allow foreigners to impose their interests. My3 and Ranil eventually find out their powerful friends. Do you think that we got independence in 1948, and finished the Asia’s longest brutal civil war by listening to the Western power?

  • 6
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    Relax mate…

    EU has already done it for you..

    Not only the PTA has to be repealed .

    But all the army camps in the North must be evacuated,

    All LTTE Tigers in custody must be released.

    All missing people as reported by the Diaspora must be produced .

    These are only a few among 52 conditions which Mangalan has signed off for receiving GSP Plus concessions .

    EU has tied not only Batalanda’s balls together, but also EU has annexed Bodhi Sira’s in the same knot.

    And the EU will be tightening it slowly after the GSP is granted until all the promised are fulfilled..

    Even if they drop off like the lambs’ in the paddocks in the west, our future Governments will be punished with more conditions ( or is it invasion) if this Yahapalanaya doesn’t deliver on Mangalana’s agreement.

  • 5
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    Hideous things indeed! Certainly need to be accounted for.

    As per the 16,000 to 22,000 pending cases of missing persons, guess that throughout the 30 year conflict (“…..from the time of the conflict and its immediate aftermath”). Dr. Veerakanthipillai Shanmugarajah attested that only a few hundreds died during the end-of-war.

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    This is a big shame for all Sri Lankans. Aren’t we supposed to be that compassionate Buddhist nation?
    What we have done is cruel punishment, and we have stooped down to primitive forms of torture.
    We have broken international laws, and join the other rogue nations in the world accused of doing the same.

  • 4
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    The PTA was supposed to have been introduced to deal with the LTTE.
    Bu who were the main victims? The JVP youth in 1988-89. The JVP’s acts of terror in the period made many blind to the injustice of the PTA.
    Such laws are designed to intimidate the people rather than any terrorist.
    They allow unlawful detention of suspects for unlimited time.
    Terrorism is unlawful and normal law used properly should be adequate to deal with acts of terror. There are provisions to declare a state of emergency under extreme circumstances.

    There is a need to distinguish between harsh action to address tough circumstances and making harsh action part of normal law.
    The JVP and the LTTE could both have been defeated without the PTA, which mostly missed the perpetrators of violence.

    I understand that the government is planning to rephrase the PTA and have it back in the books. Any such attempt should be resisted.

  • 0
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    There’s seems to be a high rate of White women getting raped in Sri Lanka these days. Police overlook such matters and the rapists are never caught. It seems like a concerted effort to give Sri Lanka a bad name (politically motivated?), and to force UN intervention.

  • 2
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    A police conspiracy or a White female conspiracy, I wonder!

  • 2
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    “The most brutal forms of torture used by police to interrogate suspects include; beatings with sticks or wires on the soles of the feet (falanga); suspension for hours while being handcuffed, asphyxiation using plastic bags drenched in kerosene and hanging of the person upside down; application of chili powder to face and eyes; and sexual violations including mutilation of the genital area and rubbing of chili paste or onions on the genital area.”

    But then this is business as per usual because we are a Sinhala Buddhist nation. Or is it Buddhist Sinhala nation – Loke Uthum Rata Lankawai. Sing along please.

  • 2
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    Is the same kind of torture used by the USA and its allies? For example, electrocution and water boarding and sleep deprivation and unleashing of dogs or use of anal sex simulation with pigs etc? Just curious why these white boys never had the balls to condemn the USA and it continues to rendition people to black op sites in Egypt, Romania etc and where torture is a glorious benefit of the motherland .

  • 1
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    Yes torture is bad wherever it happens. Other than bringing to light the torture, what action is taken to remedy same by UN. It is like Mithre/Ranil shouting that action would be taken against all those who have been up to Financial/Political mischief in the last regime. But even after 18 months nothing positive has come out except culprits are allowed to go out and come as they wish with best wishes from the government.

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