U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1994/31 (1994)(Nigel Rodley, Special Rapporteur).

Sri Lanka

Information transmitted to the Government

500. By letter dated 3 November 1993 the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received reports according to which prisoners still continue to be tortured and ill-treated in both military and police custody, despite positive measures taken by the Government since 1992 in order to improve the human rights situation in the country. These measures include, for instance, the issuance of circulars by the security forces on arrest and detention procedures intended to avoid abuses, as well as the establishment of the Human Rights Task Force, a body entrusted with monitoring the observance of the fundamental rights of detainees.

501. However, special legal provisions which differ from normal criminal procedure are still in force and can be applied to prisoners detained under the Emergency Regulations or the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Thus, prisoners held under the PTA need not be brought before a judicial authority for 90 days, and under the Emergency Regulations prisoners can be held for 30 days before a magistrate sees them. Also, confessions made before a police officer of the rank of assistant superintendent of police or above are admissible in court under the Emergency Regulations, unlike under normal criminal law, which requires confessions to be made before a magistrate in order to protect prisoners from confessing under duress. Furthermore, under these provisions prisoners need not be held in publicly known places of detention and officials of various ranks are empowered to decide where detainees can be held, without any requirement that they make these places publicly known. According to the sources, all these elements facilitate the practice of torture.

502. It was also reported that in the north-east torture and ill-treatment of prisoners continued in military, Special Task Force and police custody. Methods of torture include severe beatings; electric shocks; burning with cigarettes or matches; pouring petrol into prisoners' nostrils and then placing a plastic bag over their heads; suspending prisoners from their thumbs and beating them; beating with barbed wire and repeatedly submerging prisoners' heads in water while they were suspended from their ankles. Women have reported being raped by soldiers. Torture was also reported to occur in both police and military custody in the south with respect to political detainees arrested under the Emergency Regulations and the PTA, as well as criminal suspects. It was further reported that, in the majority of cases, victims of torture do not file complaints or report their cases to governmental or non-governmental bodies for fear of reprisals.

503. In addition to the foregoing the Special Rapporteur received affidavits concerning the following two cases:

(a) Sinnathurai Mohan, from Mylanny North, Chunnakam, went to Thirukeetheswamram on 16 January 1991 for reasons related to his business. On the boat to Vidathiilithivu he was reportedly arrested by members of the Sri Lankan navy together with three other persons. After being beaten he was allegedly handed over to the Sri Lanka army which took him to the Thallady army camp where he was allegedly beaten again and hung by the thumbs of his hands. For the three following days he was made to stay in a room called the "meat stall" as it was covered in a pool of blood. On 17 November 1991 he was taken to the Kalutara prison where he was frequently assaulted. He was released in August 1992.

(b) Packinyanathan Anton was arrested at sea on 14 October 1990 by members of the Sri Lankan navy and taken to Karainagar camp where, for several days, he was reportedly hung upside-down and beaten with iron rods and clubs. He was subsequently transferred to the Palaly prison where he was reportedly forced to eat pieces of shoe leather and cotton dipped in diesel oil. For some months, the beatings reportedly continued and he was kept blindfolded and handcuffed. He was released in July 1993.

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