Showing posts with label extra-judicial killings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label extra-judicial killings. Show all posts

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Postmortems of nine COVID-19 infected prisoners and two others killed in Sri Lanka being conducted


Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sri Lanka reported to Wattala Magistrate Court on December 18, 2020, that the postmortem reports of seven remand prisoners killed in Mahara prison would be submitted to the court on December 23. Five of these killed seven prisoners are COVID-19 patients. 

CID cited that the postmortem had been delayed because of the cremation of four other prisoners was delayed. The postmortem of these four remand prisoners was conducted earlier and the cause of death was cited as gunshot injuries. 

The prison officials shot at the prisoners but the Prisons Minister Lohan Ratwatta lied to media that no prisoner had died due to gunfire. 

The lawyers appearing for the rights of the prisoners appealed to the court that the dead bodies of the slain prisoners buried but the CID objected it. The dead bodies were cremated later.

Chaos occurred in the congested Mahara prison in Gampaha district due to the fear of COVID-19. The prisoners demanded PCR conducted among them and the infected persons separated. Eleven prisoners were killed and over 100 were injured as a result of firing by the prison officers. PCR conducted later proved that nine of the 11 killed prisoners had been contracted COVID-19. 

(Photo: A man suspected to be another prisoner deployed without personal protective equipment to attend to the dead bodies while the officials keep a safe distance)    


Friday, December 11, 2020

Conduct postmortem and reveal the causes of deaths of detainees in Mahara prison

Mahara prison riots

By Anthony Vinoth, Coordinator - Sri Lankan Collective Against Torture 

Sri Lankan Collective Against Torture is highly concerned about the killing of 11 detainees of Mahara prison and injuring 107 detainees, in an incident claimed to be taken place amidst steps to control the chaos in prison on November 29. We express our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wish speedy recovery of all the injured detainees and the two prison officials.

We highlight that the security of the prisoners in state custody lie on the government and expect the authorities will provide a credible explanation to the society about the incident.

We want to remind that local and international civil organizations have focused the attention of the government many times to the elongated issue of congestion in prisons of Sri Lanka. We believe that COVID-19 would not make the prisons so vulnerable if the government had taken steps to provide sustainable solutions to minimize prison congestion. Several civil organizations, including the Committee to Protect the Rights of the Prisoners informed the authorities several times that spread of the epidemic in the prisons might cause panic among detainees. We stress that the cause for the unfortunate situation in prison is the failure of the authorities to take timely action. As a result, chaos has been reported from several prisoners by now.  

Two detainees lost lives in Anuradhapura prison amidst the first corona wave as a result of using live rounds to control the chaos. On November 18, one detainee of Bogambara prison died due to gunshot injuries. We focus the attention to the section 13 (4) of the constitution of Sri Lanka which highlights “No person shall be punished with death or imprisonment except by order of a competent court, made in accordance with the procedure established by law.”

The killings that took place in prisons within a brief period degrade  Sri Lanka in the human rights indices while affecting the dignity of the state internationally.

Even before the postmortem, the new Minister of Prison Management Hon. Lohan Ratwatta said in the parliament that no prisoner had died of gunshot injuries in the Mahara incident. This statement by the Hon. Minister was contradicted when the state counsel representing the Attorney General reported to the Magistrate of Welisara on December 8 that Criminal Investigation Department probes had revealed the use of firearms. The Sri Lankan Collective Against Torture protests the Minister’s statement in this context. We further demand the Department of Prisons to immediately hand over the unedited copies of the videos shown on media together with the equipment used to record them to the Magistrate Court of Welisara for further investigations. 

Also, we demand the government not to cremate the dead bodies of these detainees as per the quarantine regulations. We respect the interim order issued by Hon. Magistrate of Wattala on December 4 preventing the cremations. 

Hon. Magistrate of Welisara has directed the government to provide expert opinion regarding the postmortems, and we urge the authorities to take immediate actions in terms of this direction. In the context of the investigations after the exhumation of the bodies of the murdered persons had changed the initial postmortem reports, we emphasize that the government should conduct fair and independent inquests in terms of these nine killings. The cremation of the dead bodies considering the victims of killings as COVID-19 patients may hide evidence of murder, we stress. Therefore, we urge the government to use suitable techniques such as X-ray and conduct investigations without causing injustice to the victims of a crime and the families of the victims. The responsibility of a democratic government is to conduct murder investigations transparently and independently.

Sri Lanka is lagging regarding delivering justice to the victims of similar crimes that occur in the prisons quite often. The case regarding the killing of 27 prisoners in Welikada prison on November 9, 2012, is yet to be examined. However, accelerating the process of justice concerning exceptional circumstances is unalienable responsibility of the government.

Sri Lankan Collective Against Torture extends its fullest corporation unconditionally to its member organization, Committee to Protect the Prisoners’ Rights, in their struggle to seek justice for the victims of this incident and also to increase the security and facilities in the prisons.

(Translated by Creative Content Consultants)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sri Lankan leaders indirectly admit charges leveled against them

“When the American forces entered the room that Bin Laden was in they first shot his wife. Then they shot bin Laden. At this point both of them were unarmed. But none of us, or the international community is questioning this,” said Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at a meeting held in Nugegoda on June 17, as quoted by News First.

“But the Channel 4 video, we don't know if it is accurate or not, shows LTTE terrorists being arrested by the army. They are being questioned. But later they show the body. They make it out to be a big thing. But they don't show who this terrorist is,” pointed out the Defence Secretary.

“This terrorist is the terrorist who brutally murdered our Buddhist priests in the Eastern Province in cold blood. This is the person who killed 600 unarmed police officers after tying their hands. This is the person who killed the innocent women and their children in in villages in cold blood. None of this is mentioned about these people in the documentary,” said the Defence Secretary.

This statement raises several questions. Does the senior government official know the identity of the said dead man whose body was shown in the Channel 4 film?

Does the Defense Secretary attempt to justify the killing, stating that the dead man is a terrorist?

If so, the official seems to play into the hands of his enemies who seek a war crimes probe against him. The charges against Sri Lanka government leaders are related to extra judicial killings allegedly committed during war. This kind of statements or arguments amount to admitting the charges.

Do the Sri Lankan leaders think that this is the way to face the situation in which they are really in trouble?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ninety-one suspects die in police custody in Sri Lanka under current President Mahinda Rajapakse

(September 10, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The number of suspects died while they are in police custody is increasing rapidly after present President Mahinda Rajapakse assumed duty including the portfolio of Minister of Defense, a report submitted by the government in the parliament said.

Government Chief Whip Dinesh Gunawardhana in response to a question asked by Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) said that 91 suspects died in police custody since November 2005 to 16 August during the tenure of the present Minister of Defense.

The number increased drastically as 11 persons died in 2006, 20 in 2007, 26 in 2008 and 32 in 2009 so far.

A considerable number of suspects were killed recently by police citing that they were killed as they attempted to attack police and to escape whilst they had accompanied police to recover hidden weapons. Human rights organizations claim that this kind of police action amounts to extra-judicial killings.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...