A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission is published below. You can sign the petition linked to this statement here.

Extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths are happening because of:

* Refusal of the police and judiciary to investigate;
* The absence of investigations is the result of breakdown of the rule of law;
* Which is in turn the result of the constitutional decision which has removed all the checks and balances once available

The incidents of extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths in Sri Lanka are now almost a daily occurrence. The story presented by the Sri Lankan Police Service to the Magistrate is always similar. Either they were shot while trying to escape or the police were taking the culprit to a weapons cache when he turned on them with a weapon of some description, amazingly, usually a hand grenade.

It is uncertain as to what is more ludicrous, the fact that the police never bother to change their story or the fact that they honestly believe the citizens of Sri Lanka are so gullible they will believe them. Unfortunately, they do not care about the opinions of the citizens, only the Magistrate who has no independent witnesses and can only take the word of the officers reporting the case.

It is now time for the Inspector General of Police, the Secretary of the Ministry of Defense and the President himself to take responsibility for the actions of their police officers. Officers who are supposed to be protecting the people of Sri Lanka are, in fact, using them as scapegoats for their own inability to conduct even the most rudimentary investigations.

In the last month alone three such incidents have been reported. They are:

* Mr. Appuhandhi Kotahewage Nayanajith Prasanna was arrested without charges on 22 September 2010. The 25 September he was found in his cell with severe cuts to the abdomen. He succumbed to his injuries in hospital on 26 September. The police claim he committed suicide while in custody by slashing his stomach with a shard of glass.
* Mr. Jayakody Arachchilage Oman Perera was arrested 31 August 2010 by police officers attached to the Special Task Force (STF) and taken by jeep to Colombo. During the journey one of the officers shot Jayakody because of an allegedly attempted escape. He died in hospital the same day.
* Mr. Pattiyage Komako Lalan Peiris (34) was arrested by the police officers on 23 May 2010. His arrest was allegedly a case of mistaken identity. He was found dead the following morning while handcuffed to a table in a police cell. The police explain the death as a heart attack but an autopsy carried out later at the insistence of the family reveals signs of torture.

In addition to the above cases please also see:

* Mr. Ranmukage Ajith Prasanna (30) was arrested by police officers on 17 September 2010. While in police custody he was according to the police taken to uncover a weapons shelter. The police claim that on the way Ajith tried to snatch a weapon from an officer whereupon the officer shot him. Soon after he succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
* Dhammala Arachchige Lakshman was arrested by a Special Unit of the Hanwella Police Station on 20 September 2010. On the 22 September 2010 he was taken to uncover an alleged weapon shelter. He was shot on the way and died before admission to the hospital. According to the police officers, they shot him when he tried to escape by throwing a bomb.
* Mr. Suresh Kumar (24) was arrested by police officers on 4 September 2010 and taken to uncover an alleged weapon shelter. According to the police he attempted to throw a hand grenade in direction of the police officers during the journey. Later he was found dead on the roadside.
* Jayasekara Arachchige Roshan Jayasekara (35) was arrested by police officers on 25 August 2010. On 26 August an officer brought Jayasekara’s body to the hospital. The post mortem examination revealed marks of numerous blunt force trauma injuries.
* Amarasinghe Arachchige David was arrested on 13 August 2010 by police officers. On the way to the station the police stopped to search some villagers. David left the car to watch whereupon the police officer beat him up severely. The incident was witnessed by a large group of people. He later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.
* Balage Rusiru Reggie Vijaya Bandula who lived in a conflict area fired a warning shot out of the window of his house in respond to sustained and unidentified banging on his door and around his house on 3 March 2010. Shortly after police officers broke down the door and shot Reggie. He died soon after at the hospital.
* Saman Thialakasiri reported cases of illegal logging in his neighbourhood with suspected connections to local police in 2008. Ever since he was threatened, harassed and even arrested by police officers. The 21 February 2010 at night two police officers picked up Saman. His body was found near a lake the next morning.

In not one of the cases mentioned above has any credible investigation been carried out despite appeals made to the Inspector General of Police and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.

The Inspector General of Police, Secretary of the Ministry of Defense and the President must be told by the international community that they are being held responsible, not only for the deaths but also the lack of any credible investigations and the denial of justice to the victims and their families.

Please sign the petition in order to send a clear message to the government of Sri Lanka. Extrajudicial killings and deaths in custody must stop and the officers responsible held to account.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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