Tortured Jaffna youth petitions SC

[TamilNet, Thursday, 31 May 2001, 08:44 GMT]
The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on Wednesday granted leave to proceed on a fundamental rights petition filed by a Jaffna youth who is being held in the Boosa prison, south of Colombo. The youth, Selvarajah Thamilchelvan of Pattarakalli koviladi, Thavadi South, Kokuvil, Jaffna states in his petition that he was hung upside down and severely tortured while in the custody of the Terrorism Investigation Division of the Police. Thamilchelvan said that TID officers repeatedly burnt his hands with cigarettes and covered his head with a plastic bag soaked in petrol while he was beaten with wires and poles- common method of torture by Sri Lankan security forces. The medico-legal report on Thamilchelvan states there are seven scars on his body, two of which are 14 cm 16 cm long and two 10 cm long.

Sri Lanka signed the Convention Against Torture in 1994 but very rarely prosecutes members of its security forces found guilty of torture by courts.

The case was taken up before Chief Justice N.Sarath de Silva, Justices A.R.P.Amarasinghe and H.S.Yappa on 29.05.2001.

Attorney-at-Law M. Remadious appeared for the Petitioner and leave to proceed was granted by the court. Next date fixed for hearing on 25.07.2001.

Following are the petitions and the medico-legal report submitted to the Supreme Court.

In the Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri-Lanka

In the matter of an application under and in terms of article 17 and 126 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri-Lanka

Petitioner: Selvarajah Thamilchelvan of Pattarakalli koviladi, Thavadi South, Kokuvil, Jaffna. and presently at Boosa Prison Boosa

Application No:VS SCFR 268/2001

VS

Respondents:

01.H.G.Wickramasinghe,

The Director

Terrorist Investigation Division,

No, 101,Chaitya Road, Colombo 01.

02.The Superintendent of Prisons

Remand Prison, Boosa.

03.The Inspector General of Police

Police Headquarters, Colombo - 01.

04.Hon Attorney-General

Attorney General's Department,

Colombo - 12.

TO: His Lordship the Chief Justice and their Lordship's the other Judges of the Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri-Lanka.

The Petition of the Petitioner above named appearing by his Attorney-at-Law Kumuthini Kumarasingham states as follows: -

Petitioner is 32 years old, and the sole breadwinner of the family, employed as a labourer, and father of two children aged 2 1/2 & 9 months.

Petitioner respectfully states that on 22nd June 2000 the police officers attached to Terrorist Investigation Division, (TID) arrested him while he was staying at his brother house No. 47/1, Weliammune, Wattala, in order to travel abroad, and was taken to TID office.

Petitioner further respectfully states that he was not informed of the reasons for his arrest at the time of his arrest by the Police officers who arrested him and they have thus violated his fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 13(1) and 13(2) of the Constitution.

At the time of arrest no receipt was issued to confirm his arrest to his family or to any of his close relatives who were with him at the time of his arrest by the Police officer who arrested him and thus they have violated the procedure established by regulation 18(9) of the Emergency Regulation No 843/12 dated 04.11.1994, and therefore his arrest is illegal.

While being held in detention at the TID, the officers of the said police station TID banged his ears with both hands on either side, after which his left ear started bleeding. Even now he takes treatment at the Prison Hospital. The back of his head was caught from behind and his face was slammed onto the tabletop and his forehead got injured. The Officers of TID took a paperweight and hit the top of his head with it, injuring him.

At the said TID, the Police officers tied his legs and hanged him upside down and assaulted him with wicket poles and wires, also the Police Officers assaulted him until it was midnight. They covered his head with a shopping bag, which was soaked in petrol.

Further Petitioner respectfully states that the Police officers squeezed his male organ with a pair of pliers and he suffered immense pain at that time. The police officer also burnt him with burning cigarette butts on his both hands. While he was hung up the TID officers scrapped the body with the tip of a broken pole.

From the day of his arrest the Police officers at TID continuously subjected him to torture, degrading and inhuman treatment in the above said manner.

Petitioner respectfully states that while the Police officers subjected him to torture they repeatedly forced him to admit that he is a member of the LTTE. Finally, although he was not a member of the LTTE and had no connection with the LTTE, he was forced to say yes to whatever questions asked by the Police officers, as at that time he was not in a position to face any more torture.

Petitioner has marks of injuries sustained during the assault by poles and wire still visible at the back. Also there are marks of injuries still visible on his chest, forehead, thighs, buttocks, both upper arms and wrists. The marks of injuries sustained caused by burning Cigarette butts are still visible on both his hands.

While torturing me in the above said manner, the Police officers forced him to place his signature in some documents typed in Sinhala the contents of which was not explained to him at any time. He placed his signature in the said documents as he fearing more torture. He respectfully states that he has no knowledge of Sinhala to read and understand the said documents.

Further Petitioner respectfully states that he was subjected to torture, degrading and inhuman treatment by the Police officers at the TID and the said officers have violated his fundamental rights guaranteed by article 11 of the Constitution.

After obtaining his signature, he was produced before the Chief Magistrate Court of Colombo under the case number B 825/1/2001on 13th February 2001 by the Police officers attached to TID and the Learned Chief Magistrate of Colombo remanded him for 14 days. Now he is being produced before the Magistrate once in every 14 days. Once again on 13th March 2001, when he was brought before the Magistrate, he informed the Magistrate about the torture inflicted on him. Thereafter learned Magistrate ordered that he be produced before the JMO, Galle and forward his findings to the court.

Further Petitioner respectfully states that he was examined by the Judicial Medical Officer Galle (Karapitiya) on 20th March 2001. (Copy of the said report of the JMO Galle is annexed hereto and marked as P1)

Further Petitioner states that he was detained for 264 days at TID. He was never served with any detention orders. He states that both his arrest and detention are wrongful and the period of detention is excessive, thus violating his fundamental rights guaranteed by article 13(1) and 13(2) of the Constitution.

Petitioner further states that the arrest, detention and torture have caused him pain of body, pain of mind and humiliation.

Petitioner claims Rs. 200,000/- as damages for the torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and unlawful arrest and detention.

Petitioner states that the delay in filing this application is that he was under restraint from the date of his arrest. He further respectfully states that he was unable to get legal assistance to file an application during the period when he was detained under detention order. Even after he was remanded he was unable to get Legal assistance.

Petitioner further states that he has not committed any offence under the prevention of terrorism Act No 48 of 1979 nor under any emergency regulations.

Petitioner respectfully states that he was never engaged in any illegal or terrorist activities at any time.

Petitioner has not previously invoked the jurisdiction of your Lordship's Court in respect of this matter.

WHEREFORE the Petitioner prays that Your Lordships may pleased to

a.Grant Leave to proceed with this application

b.Declare that the fundamental Rights of the Petitioner guaranteed by article 11,13(1) and 13(2) of the constitution were violated by the Respondents

c.Order the release of the Petitioner

d.Direct the Respondents to pay Rupees Two hundred thousand ( Rs 200,000/=) as compensation to the petitioner.

e.Grant cost

f.Grant such further and other reliefs, as your lordship's court shall seem meet.

Medico-Legal Report

To: the Chief Magistrate Court of Colombo.

Case No.B 825/1

Identification: Full Name: Selvaraja Tamilchelvam 32 years. Male

Address:No. 47/3 Waliamuna Road Hendala, Wattala.

Examined at Teaching Hospital Karapitiya on 20.03.2001 at 10 a.m.

Patient was not admitted to the ward.

Short history given by the patient:-

Produced by Prison Boosa. Referred from Chief Magisttrate Court, Colombo. History of assault by Officer of Terrorist Investigation Division. He said that he was arrested on 22.06.2000 and he had been assaulted on several occasions.

Nature, size, shape, disposition and site of injury

Hypopigmented linear scar 10 cm in length 0.9 cm in width, placed over back of upper right chest.

Hypopigmented linear scar 16 cm in length 1 cm in width, placed over back right chest.

Hypopigmented linear scar 10 cm in length 1 cm in width, placed of back right lower chest.

Hypopigmented linear scar, placed over left upper

Linear scar 14 cm in length 0.5 cm width, placed over left upper chest

Hypopigmented linear scar, placed over back of left chest.

Hypopigmented linear scar, placed over back of left lower chest.


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