By Susitha R. Fermamdo

In its final report on the inquiry into the killing of two youth in Angulana, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) claimed that police torture of those in custody had not changed despite pressure and a large number of Supreme Court rulings on the violation of fundamental rights.

The HRC said the police whose duty was to uphold law and order had not even followed basic procedures in the performance of their duties and had seriously violated the human rights of the victims.

It also expressed concern that killings while in police custody had continued to become a serious problem in Sri Lanka.

The 50-page report was compiled by the six member team led by HRC Investigation Director Samanthi Jayamanna on the instructions of HRC Additional Secretary Nimal Punchihewa. The inquiry was commissioned after wide media coverage in connection to the murder of Dinesh Tharanga and Danushka Udayakantha on August 12 last year. In its report the HRC directed the National Police Commission and the Police Department to take disciplinary action against the defendant policemen and observed that they had not only committed serious offences but had even tampered with police records and violated Departmental procedures. HRC said the Police had altered the pages with where the complaints were recorded on the day of the killings.

With regard to the offences committed by former Angulana OIC and six policemen, the HRC said that as a result of their conduct violated the rights of not only the two youth who were killed but the rights of the woman who had come to the police station to make a complaint that she was harassed by the two youths.

“Therefore not only the deceased youth but the woman too should be compensated either by the government or the defendant policemen,” the HRC said in its recommendation.

“Sri Lanka is a signatory to a number of International Conventions and a party to agreements with regard to civil and political rights. And the country is bound to safeguard those rights of the citizens of this country,” the report stated.

“Even where there has been a large number of court orders issued in cases of violating fundamental rights and where the Supreme Court had imposed heavy penalties and compensation to be paid by the perpetrator police officers personally, it has not made much of an difference,” HRC report said.

Source: Daily Mirror – 10.02.2009

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