Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence


Annex 1

PRESS RELEASE—AHRC-PL-96-2004

Torture victim in criminal case against Sri Lanka police shot, critically injured

  (Hong Kong. November 21, 2004) A Sri Lankani torture victim in a criminal case pending against a number of police officers was shot and critically injured today.

  Gerald Marvin Perera, whose case was due to come before the Negombo High Court within a matter of days, was shot by an unknown assailant at close range while traveling on a bus at Welisara around 11.15 am, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said in an urgent appeal released today.

  The assailant then dismounted the bus and boarded a car bearing licence plate no 65-68-39.

  The bus driver detoured to a nearby hospital. Perera was then sent to the capital for emergency treatment. "In recent weeks, Gerald Perera had been under pressure to withdraw the case" said the AHRC in its appeal.

  The case has been lodged by the Attorney General under the Convention against Torture Act of Sri Lanka, Act No 22 of 1994, which carries a minimum sentence of seven years.

  The alleged pressure, by the accused police and their associates, was intended to have Rerera retract his original complaint. However, he had refused. The two officers identified as primarily responsible are Sub-Inspector Suresh Gunaratne and Sub-Inspector Herath.

  "One provincial council member of Mabole, known to Gerald's family as Mr Niroshan, has also visited his house and asked him to withdraw the complaint" wrote the AHRC.

  The AHRC noted in the appeal that such attempts are commonplace in Sri Lanka.

  "The family suspects that the accused police officers in the torture case are behind this attempt to kill Gerald Peters" said the AHRC.

  "If he passes away, the key witness in the case against them will be gone" it added.

  The appeal called upon readers to urge the authorities to provide around-the-clock protection to Perera, and ensure that all his medical needs are met.

  "This case speaks to a complete failure of witness protection" said Basil Fernando, executive director of the AHRC.

  "If the Convention against Torture Act is ever to be implemented, torture victims who are expected to give evidence in court before culprit police officers must have adequate security" said Fernando.

  In April 2003 the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka awarded a record payout to Perera for the suffering caused by torture inflicted by officers of the Wattala Police in June 2002, which left him in a coma for over two weeks, and caused serious injuries to his kidneys and other internal organs.

  It was concluded by the court that the police tortured Perera after they mistook him for someone else.


 
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