Written evidence submitted by Asian Human
Re: Situation in Sri Lanka calls for urgent action
The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to
bring to your notice a rather serious situation developing in
Sri Lanka following the killing of the High Court judge in Colombo
on 19 November 2004. With the upsurge of protests arising against
the killing unfortunately the government is making attempts to
divert the whole issue into "a campaign against crime"
which in essence means giving license to the police to do what
ever they like under the pretext of controlling crime. As a part
of this intense campaign the death sentence has been reintroduced
within a day. It is obviously a move to create the impression
that the government is trying to do something about the situation.
In fact given the virtual collapse of the criminal investigation
capacity this only means allowing any forms of illegal acts without
any controls. The target group is not serious criminals but mostly
citizens, particularly the poor and those persons who have made
complaints against the law enforcement agencies in the past. Particularly
in the last two years there is an increase in the number of complaints
against police torture. Many cases are pending in High Courts
against police officers. These cases are of those who have withstood
enormous pressure and refused to withdraw their cases. These persons
and the human rights organisations in Sri Lanka that protect them
will be the targets in the coming days and months. The attached
papers explain the situation to some extent.
The Asian Human Rights Commission requests you
to pay serious attention to what is developing at the moment and
to make an effective intervention through your good office to
save lives and to prevent even further degeneration of the rule
of law in Sri Lanka.
Asian Human Rights Commission
22 November 2004