The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) informed that they had since 2015 received a total of 466 complaints of torture, especially of torture whilst in Police custody.
In the first quarter of 2016, the Commission has received 53 such complaints while the balance of the figure was reported and recorded from last year. The majority of the said complaints involve torture, arbitrary arrest and harassment.
Chairperson of the HRCSL, Dr. Deepika Udagama said that although in the case of ragging, torture was committed by undergraduates, since it was done within State institutions such as Universities, if the University administrations and relevant authorities and officials do not take sufficient action against this violation of human rights, to prevent and protect, they can be charged with aiding and abetting torture.
She observed that law enforcement agencies and authorities saw the Commission as an opponent, adding that there were issues faced by the Commission in terms of these agencies and authorities cooperating with investigations conducted into complaints received, for an example them not turning up for inquiries.
Proper, democratic and humanistic practices such as psychological techniques must be used to obtain information from suspects, she pointed out.
Only in 5% of the cases filed are the defendants proved guilty, she explained.National security laws and emergency regulations like the Prevention of Terrorism Act (which needs to be repealed) did not help eradicate terrorism but promoted terrorism by way of admitting confessions (which had been obtained through torture) and prolonged detention, she remarked, adding that proposed new security laws should strike a balance and be in accordance with international standards and best practices.
Domestic violence too is torture, she mentioned.
This week, the HRCSL commenced its island-wide anti-torture campaign with a march from the Commission’s headquarters to the Independence Square to which the President and the Inspector General of Police were invited.
“The respect for the rule of law is abysmal. For decades, torture has been a real issue and at present we are daily and even during the last few months been receiving complaints of torture, especially of torture while in Police custody. Freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment is an absolute right even during situations of conflict.