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Report of Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
Ė Ms.Yakin Erturk, 3 March 2004,
UN Commission on Human Rights, 60th Sessions E/CN.4/2004/66/Add.1
Communications sent to the Government
140. On 24 September 2003, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint communication with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture regarding the case of S.R. (f), aged 22, held in detention in Batticaloa since 23 July 2002. She was arrested on 24 November 2001 by four male police officers from the Methirigirya police station on the basis of being a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and was reportedly taken to the office of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Polonaruwa. At about midnight, she was put alone in a cell, where it is alleged that officers from the Methirigirya police station and the Polonaruva CID threatened to shoot her with a gun, put chili powder all over her body, suspended her from the ceiling, slapped her repeatedly, kicked her back, beat her with a rope, and burnt her all over with cigarettes. She was then allegedly raped by 12 police officers while in custody of CID.
On 26 November 2001 she was reportedly transferred to the Kaduruwella police station where she was held for one month. It is believed that she was presented to a magistrate on 29 November 2001, and reportedly remanded to the Anuradapura Prison where she was held for another month before being transferred to Welikada prison for one month.
She was reportedly transferred to Batticaloa prison on 23 July 2002 and granted bail on 19 September 2002. It is reported that she has suffered acute mental trauma and that the Batticaloa Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), who reportedly examined her on 30 August 2002 by order of the High Court of Batticaloa, has submitted a report to the Eastern High Court on 18 September 2003 in which it is recommended that counselling and rehabilitation should be provided to S.R.. According to the information received, the Eastern High Court has postponed the inquiry on this case.
141. On 24 September 2003, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint communication with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture regarding I.S. (f), who was arrested on 25 September 2002 at 11.30 a.m. by the police and taken to Vavuniya prison, along with four other individuals, in connection with the murder of her husband.
On the day of her arrest she was allegedly punched, kicked and beaten with sticks. It is also alleged that two police officers threatened to strip her naked if she did not tell the truth. That evening she was reportedly brought before a magistrate. On 26 September 2002, she was reportedly taken to hospital, but she allegedly did not receive proper medical treatment. It is reported that due to her injuries she was unable to move one of her hands properly. The names of the alleged perpetrators of the above-mentioned acts of torture or ill-treatment are known to the Special Rapporteur.
S.H. (f), aged 39, was reportedly taken to the Wariyapola police station in Kurunegala district on 8 March 2002 for questioning in connection with a robbery at a local temple. She was allegedly kept in police custody for two days, during which the police allegedly abused her sexually. Follow-up to previously transmitted communications
142. On 8 July 2003, the Government responded to a joint communication sent by the Special Rapporteur with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture dated 16 September 2002 regarding the case of Ms. Yogalingam Vijitha.
Ms. Vijitha was arrested on suspicion of terrorist activities and detained at Negombo police station before being transferred to the Terrorist Investigation Division in Colombo on 26 June 2000. She was reportedly indicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the High Court of Negombo. An investigation was ordered into allegations that she was raped while in detention. Sri Lankaís Supreme Court have heard the case on a fundamental rights application, and judged in her favour. The Court ruled that her rights under articles 11 and 13, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Constitution had been violated and awarded compensation.
The Court has reportedly directed the Attorney-General to pursue the possibility of criminal prosecution against those responsible for the violation of her fundamental rights. Though the presence of a petitioner in Sri Lanka is not required tofile a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court, under Sri Lankan law, the police require a statement from the victim to initiate the police investigation into a criminal act.
The Government said it had exhausted all avenues to record the victimís statement. Therefore, the Attorney-General decided that it was not possible to proceed with further investigations and instructed the police to terminate investigations unless Vijitha made a formal statement to the police.
143. By letter dated 24 December 2003, the Government responded to a joint communication sent on 16 September 2002 with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture. It reported that the Special Investigations Unit of the police (SIU) investigated the allegations that Ms. S Umadevi was abducted, raped and murdered on 12 September 2001. SIU concluded that the police had duly recorded the complaint and conducted investigations into the murder. Therefore, no disciplinary action has been taken against the police officer concerned.
It reported that SIU also investigated the case of Ms. Jeyanthi Veerasingham, alleged to have been raped and killed on 17 February 2000 while in custody at Sanasa transit camp. It responded that she was arrested by armypersonnel of Sanasa camp, and was handed over to the 211 field headquarters for further investigation. She is said to have taken a cyanide capsule and was taken to hospital, where she died. SIU did not find any evidence that she was raped or subjected to torture prior to her suicide. However, SIU forwarded extracts of the investigation to the Attorney-Generalís Department for advice, and were waiting for the reply.
144. By letter dated 24 December 2003 the Government responded to a joint communication sent on 16 September 2002 with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture.
An investigation was ordered into the allegations that Herath Nandani Sriyalatha was subjected to sexual abuse and torture in police custody. On 21 June 2002, the Attorney-General ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to take over the investigation. The Attorney-General, after having examined the material, decided to indict the accused police officers under the Torture Act. Indictments were sent by the Attorney-General to the High Court of Kurunegala, and the case was taken up on 5 November 2003. The trial is scheduled for 16 February 2004. The Police Department has taken action to suspend the suspected police officers.
In regard to allegations that Velu Arshadevi was raped at a checkpoint in Colombo on 24 June 2001 by policemen, the Government responded that four suspects had been identified, arrested and remanded in custody within 48 hours of the incident. On the advice of the Attorney-General, the police instituted non-summary proceedings in the Magistrates Court against the suspects, two police constables and three army personnel. The Magistrate committed the accused to stand trial in the high court. As a result of the committal, the accused army personnel were suspended. The Supreme Court awarded compensation payable by the State to the victim for the violations of her rights guaranteed by article 11 (right to freedom from torture) and article 13, paragraph 1 (right to be free from arbitrary detention), of the Sri Lankan Constitution. The Supreme Court held for the first time that rape amounted to torture.An undertaking was given by the State to the Court to institute criminal proceedings against the suspects.
Regarding Poomany Saravanai, two suspected army personnel have been arrested and were produced before the Jaffna Magistrates Court. They were charged in court for rape, and non-summary proceedings of this case are in progress. Regarding the 33-year-old mother, who was reportedly taken into custody by officers of CID on 27 June 2000 and ill-treated, the information provided was insufficient to commence investigation and take further action. The Government requested further information on the identity of the victim.
The Government also requested more information about the identity of the mother of two children who was reportedly raped by a STF commando at Cheddipalayam in Batticaloa district on 5 February 2001.