SRI LANKA: Former army officer arbitrarily detained and tortured without trial

Posted on | maart 5, 2012 | No Comments

Ms. Eva Wanasundara, Attorney General, SRI LANKA,

Re: SRI LANKA: Former army officer arbitrarily detained and tortured without trial

Dear Attorney General of Sri Lanka,

Name of the victim: Mr. R D Wickramasinghe (51) of No: 30/A, “Srikatha”, Yatihalagala, Kandy
Alleged perpetrator: Officers attached to the CID of Sri Lanka Police
Date of incident: 26 June 2006
Place of incident: CID of Sri Lanka Police

I am writing to express my serious concern over the case of Mr. R D Wickramasinghe (51) of No: 30/A, “Srikatha”, Yatihalagala, Kandy. Mr. Wickramasinghe has been arbitrarily detained in an unknown location for four years and eight months without trial. He is married and the father of three teenage children.

Mr. Wickramasinghe is a graduate of the University of Peradeniya. He was a captain in the Sri Lankan Army until 2003 when he resigned from his post to become a teacher. He started work at the Gurudeniya Maha Vidiyalaya in the district of Kandy teaching political science and economics, in addition to being the official cadet officer at the school. His wife, Ms. Chandrika Jayaratne is also a teacher; she works at Ambathenna Primary School.

On 26 June 2006 Mr. Wickramasinghe received a phone message from a person who identified himself as Fernando. The caller asked him to meet him at Dambulla. Since Mr. Wickramasinghe has a friend named Fernando, he thought he would be meeting his friend. Accordingly, Mr. Wickramasinghe went to the Dambulla bus stand to meet his friend. As he was waiting, a group of people approached him and pushed him into a van. Later, he learnt that his friend, Fernando, had been arrested and blackmailed so that he would leave the phone message.

Mr. Wickramasinghe was taken to an old building where he was arbitrarily held in the basement, blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back. After two days, he was transported to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) office where he was forced to translate a Tamil letter and rewrite it in Sinhala. According to Mr. Wickramasinghe, the letter was about five policemen. Mr. Wickramasinghe believes that he was forced to translate this letter so that that his abductors could file fabricated charges against him. He was also asked to sign a number of documents. When he refused, the officers threatened to rape his wife and daughter.

Since Mr. Wickramasinghe went missing, his family members have been frantically searching for him. Eleven days after he disappeared, Mr. Wickramasinghe contacted his family to let them know that he was being detained at the CID office in Colombo. Ms. Chandrika, Mr. Wickramasinghe’s wife, was called to the fourth floor of the CID and questioned on two occasions. She was asked whether she and her husband had provided shelter to any suspected LTTE terrorists. She denied all the allegations. A few days later, Chandrika went to the CID office again to enquire after her husband. She was allowed to meet him, but they were not allowed to speak in private.

Despite the lack of privacy, Mr. Wickramainghe told Ms. Chandrika that he was being held by an unknown group which he suspected to be a paramilitary group. Since he was blindfolded, he could not tell her of his location. He went on to reveal that he had been detained without proper food and had been severely tortured. At one point, he said that he had begged his abductors to kill him because he could not endure the pain they were subjecting him to. After about twelve days, the suspected paramilitary group handed him over to the CID. He was detained for three months at the CID office. During this time, he was forced to sign several documents which he had not been allowed to read.

He was finally brought before the Colombo magistrate and detained at the Colombo Remand Prison (CRP) at Welikada. He was made to appear before the Colombo Magistrate Court every fourteen days. Wickramasinghe was then transferred to Bogambara Remand Prison in December, 2010. He is now set to appear in the Kandy High Court.

Mr. Wickramasinghe and his family state that his basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka were violated. They call for his immediate release and rehabilitation.

Sri Lanka signed and ratified the CAT (Convention Against Torture) on 3 January 1994. Following state obligations, Sri Lanka adopted Act No. 22 of 1994. This law adopted by the Sri Lankan parliament makes torture a crime that is punishable for a minimum of seven years and maximum of ten years if the suspect is proven guilty. The Attorney General of Sri Lanka is supposed to file indictments in cases where credible evidence is found of torture by state officials.

Please note that I have also written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on this regard.

I request your urgent intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, illegal detention, torture by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country for misusing powers of state officers and for wrongful prosecution. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department.

Yours sincerely,

AUTHOR: William Nicholas Gomes
E-MAIL: [at]


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