Asian Centre for Human Rights

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Andhra Pradesh
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ACHR Press Release
ACHR Index: PR/SLA/01/11/03
3 November 2003

UN expert committee urged to correct Kangaroo court system of Sri Lanka

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in a counter report, Sri Lanka: Time for Overhauling Human Rights Mechanisms, to the government of Sri Lanka's report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee demanded overhauling of the Kangaroo court system in Sri Lanka. The UN expert body is examining Sri Lanka's report covering the period 1991 to 2002 on the implementation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights today i.e. 3 November 2003 in Geneva after one decade.

The judiciary is subservient to the Attorney General and the Defence Minister under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979 on arrest, detention and bail. Thousands of ethnic Tamils continue to be detained without any charge or trial for years as the courts cannot examine the reasonableness of the detention order and grant bail without the executive caprice. Although Sri Lankan President released 3,670 prisoners in 2002-2003 under general amnesty, not a single PTA detainee was released. Rather, in September 2003, the Attorney General directed all state counsels appearing in High Courts not to withdraw indictments filed under the PTA any more.

"Article 126 of Constitution of Sri Lanka makes perversion of delivery of justice against infringement of fundamental rights. Under Article 126, petitions against violations of fundamental rights can only be filed with the Supreme Court, thereby restricting the access to justice to the poor and disadvantaged and those living outside of Colombo, within one month time limitations and only by the victim or his attorney. There is no chance to pursue justice for violations of fundamental rights of the dead and the missing." - stated ACHR.

By granting impunity, the Sri Lankan government has turned its security forces into the biggest gang of criminals, alleged ACHR. Although, Sri Lankan government admitted that 27,200 persons have disappeared in 1988-90 alone, it failed to report conviction of a single person. Although torture was made a criminal offence in 1994, until today not a single law enforcement personnel has been convicted for custodial rape and torture, even though torture victims also include police and provincial government Minister. Even Sub-Inspector of Wattala Police Station, Suresh Gunaratne, the torturer of Mr W.M Gerald Perera, a cook employed by the Colombo Dockyard Limited has not been punished. On 4 August 2003, Perara was awarded highest compensation of Rs. 800,000/- as compensation by the Supreme Court; and SI Gunarate tortured more people subsequent to the torture of Perera.

ACHR urged the UN Human Rights Committee, among others, to recommend repeal of 126 of Constitution, Human Rights Commission Act of 1996, Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1979 and the Convention against Torture Act No. 22 of 1994 and allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judiciary to visit Sri Lanka. ACHR also urged to grant citizenship to the Indian origin Tamils within a specific time frame.[END]

For more information please call Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights in New Delhi, India at +91-11-25503624 or 25620583

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