INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
TORTURE - 'ALMOST UNIVERSAL PRACTISE'
OF SRI LANKAN AUTHORITIES
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment" - Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
[see also Torture of Eelam Tamils: the Record Speaks....
"...From informal records held in Jaffna,
the author has discovered that at least 23 members of the Tamil community have died in, or
as a result of being in army or police custody since July 1979. In addition four persons
have 'disappeared' whilst in such custody and must be presumed to dead... the former
detainees detailed to the author systematic inhumane and violent treatment at the hands of
those who were detaining them over long periods of time...
Several instances were reported to the author of persons being hung upside down with a bag
covering their head into which was introduced fine ground dried chilli powder. Evidence of
the effect of this on the metabolism of the lungs was read by the author in the inquest
...the author accepts that it is the almost universal practice of the military
authorities to physically assault and mistreat those persons who have been in their
custody with the principal locations for that assault being the Elephant Pass army
camp and the Panagoda army camp in Colombo...
...the author finds that this treatment is not only in breach of Article 11 of the Sri
Lankan Constitution which states that 'no person shall be subject to torture or to cruel,
inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment' but (that it) is also carried out on a
systematic basis. This treatment is also in breach of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights to which Sri Lanka is a State Party after having ratified the
Covenant. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka has not ratified the Optional Protocol to permit
individuals, other than other States Party to the Covenant, to complain and proceed
against Sri Lanka for breaches of the Covenant." - Ethnic and Communal Violence:
The Independence of the Judiciary: Protection of Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law in
Sri Lanka - Fragile Freedoms? - Report of an ICJ Mission to Sri Lanka in June 1983 -
"...The testimonies taken by the Amnesty International mission (in January and
February 1982), confirm other reports received by the organisation that torture was
regularly inflicted in 1981 and at least up until the time of the mission..."
Sri Lanka: Current Human Rights Concerns and Evidence of Extra Judicial Killings - Amnesty
International Report, 1 June 1984
"Allegations that torture occurs in Sri Lanka have long been of concern to AI.
Over the past five years, however, the organisation has received consistent reports, many
in the form of sworn affidavits, which lead it to conclude that the practise is wide
spread and persistent. Torture is used particularly against political detainees, some of
whom have died as a result...
When the present government took office in 1977, it prohibited torture and cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment, under the Constitution. It has also denied that torture is
permitted...However torture has been widely reported from a variety of sources.
AI has receivedtestimonies from former detainees, detailing torture and from witnesses to
tortures from others; from relatives of victims and from lawyers. In addition the findings
of several medical examinations of former detainees are consistent with the tortures
alleged...In all cases of torture and ill treatment reported to AI, detainees were held
Relatives have difficulty in establishing the whereabouts of detainees and in recent
months over 180 are reported to have 'disappeared', the authorities denying any knowledge
of their detention." - Amnesty International File on Torture, October 1985
"Detainees often have been held in army camps, incommunicado, without access to
lawyers and relatives, and in some cases have been tortured and even killed whilst in
custody...(In one case) it was found, at a post mortem examination, that the detainee
had suffered twenty five external and ten internal injuries which had been inflicted on
him by force. This was the case of Mr.A.K.Navaratnarajah (a Tamil) who died on the
10th of April 1983 whilst held in custody. At the time of my visit in February 1985, no
one had been charged with Mr.Navaratnarajah's murder...
Government explanations that it is impossible to find reliable evidence to identify those
responsible for such killings cannot be accepted in the absence of a clear indication of a
serious public and impartial attempt to investigate such events." - Patricia
Hyndman - Democracy in Peril, Report to Lawasia Human Rights Committee, June 1985