Fact Report on Arrest, Detention& Arbitrary Killings

Place: - | Courtesy: MIRJE
| Date: 19991205

This is the first of a series of monthly fact reports over the application of the PTA with regard to arrest, detention and arbitrary killings.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)and its implications FEBRUARY - AUGUST 1999.


This is the first of a series of monthly fact reports over the application of the PTA with regard to arrest, detention and arbitrary killings. It is no secret that, though since the adoption of the PTA it was persistently agitated by various quarters of the society, however it is regretting to note that non of those efforts were effective enough to persuade the state either to abolish it nor to constructively reduce the draconian vigorousness of the PTA.

Today the application of the PTA has reached an alarming state. Specially with its implications over the ongoing military conflict in the North and East of the country. In this context it is important to carefully examine the relevant conflicting aspects and its underlying concerns in order to gauge the severity of the PTA and to clearly sort out the areas of focus.

With the gradual success of the military in liberating large chunks of enemy held territory, the majority Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan Army today has come in to direct contact with the Tamil minority village folk as never before. Similarly the invariable option of having to force the military to play the role of the sole representative of the state in all affairs of the civilians has led to an innumerable degree of chaos and suspicion among the ordinary civilians. In the other hand people moving and residing out of the conflict areas, too are under severe pressure and often looked upon as separatist suspects. The gruesome application of the PTA in to this volatile and complex context has resulted in adding fuel to the existing flames.

Instead of a carefully planned legal mechanism that takes cognisance of the basic concerns of fundamental human liberties and rights the arbitrary PTA has directly resulted in arresting and detaining a number of minority Tamils sans proper and acceptable grounds is indiscriminately in the rise. The following is a brief account of persons arrested under the PTA within the magistrate divisions stated below and its out come.

M.C of Colombo Fort - May, 1999

Total number of persons arrested 22

Number of persons discharged 21

Persons further remanded 01

M.C of Hulfstdorp - April, 1999

Total number of persons arrested 70

Number of persons discharged 22

Number of persons detained sans framing charges 03

Number of persons released on bail 02

Number of persons under detention orders 03

M.C of Hulfstdorp - May, 1999

Total number of persons arrested 62

Number of persons discharged 44

Number of persons further remanded 16

Number of persons detained sans framing charges 02

M.C of Maligakanda-April, 1999

Number of persons arrested 02

Number of persons further remanded 02

M.C of Maligakanda- May, 1999

Total number of persons arrested 17

Number of persons further remanded 17

The above details clearly stands proof to the severity of the arbitrary application of the PTA as most of the persons arrested being discharged due to the inability to find reasonable grounds to substantiate the move to detain the suspects any further. In the other hand it is possible to notice a dangerous trend of continuously remanding suspects sans framing charges.

Such arbitrary moves are facilitated by the PTA in order to bring them well within the ambit of the justifiability of the present legal system. Similarly the following is another brief account of the number of fundamental rights applications filed during the month of June 1999 over arrest, detention and cruel or inhuman treatment.

Fundamental rights right's applications under article 11, 13(1), and 13(2) of the Constitution

Number of cases filed under article 11, 13(1) and 13(2): 9
Number of cases filed under article 13(1) and 13(2): 2
Total number of cases filed under above articles: 11

Apart from using the PTA with regard to the North-East minorities there have been a number of confirmed instances where it has been used to arrest, detain and harass innocent Upcountry Tamils with totally unperceivable reasons at all. Once detained the suspects are often subjected to severe torture and various other means of inhuman and cruel treatment. In most occasions genuine and non genuine suspects are detained together.

The continuation of this practice leads to criminalise the minds and behaviours of the innocent suspects and the continued indifferent & unjust treatment invariably helps to drive the innocent suspects to the only available recourse of being anti social and anti state elements. The following figures clearly illustrate the number of up country Tamil civilians arrested and produced before the Gangodawila M.C during the period of February and May 1999.

Month Name of suspect Place of permanent residence

Subramaniyam Rasiya Norwood, Nuwara-Eliya
Tahngavelu Mahiladevi Norwood, Nuwara-Eliya
Annamalai Kokilai Norwood, Nuwara-Eliya
pathvasaran Irula Bogawanthalawa, Nuwara-Eliya
Ramaiya Rasalingam Rangala, Nuwara-Eliya
Mohamaed Casim Farook Madurankulam, N-E
Govindapillei Vijaya Lakshmi Jaffna
K. Sivakumar Udupussellawa, Nuwaraeliya
P. Arumugam Welipenna, Up country
P.U. Kumar Lindula, Nuwara-Eliya
R. Dayalan Nivitigala, Ratnapura
M. Thiruwaran Selva Welimada, Badulla
W. Selliya Rambodagalla, Nuwara-Eliya
N. Dayalan Nugegoda, Colombo
Arumugam Udayakumar Kadawatha, Gampaha
Karupaya Balaratnam Colombo 9
H. Dayapalan Narahenpita, Colombo
K. Selwaraya Kesbewa (Plantation), Colombo
Raju Madmadavi Moratuwa, Colombo
Sathasivam Yogamalar Wattala, Gampaha
Mehima Sivarani Hatton, Nuwara-Eliya

Situation in prisons

Over crowding of prisons is another pathetic state where the suspects are forced to virtually being treated as serial criminals. Conditions of prisons or detention centres are too of a very poor standard and they are often in hazardous health conditions and don't meet at least the accepted minimum health and sanitation standards. The suspects are forced to suffer as they are already under a premature presumption of being terrorists. The PTA acts as a spring board in driving innocent suspects in to such sub human condition, detention centres due to its ability to assume in to arbitrary presumptions on the suspects. Mentioned below is a brief analysis of political prisoners at the Batticalo prison.

Remand Prisoners - Males 44
- Females 03

Convicted Prisoners - Males 03 - Females 00

Age Groups of Political Prisoners

Less than 18 Years - Nil
Between 18 - 35 Years - Males 42 / Females - 01
Over 35 Years - Males - 2 / Females - 01

General conditions at the Batticalo Prison

a. An acute shortage of water is prevailing. Urgently needs construction of a well fitted with a water pump
b. Prison kitchen is in a dilapidated condition. Needs renovation.
c. Staff quarters is old and requires to be repaired.
d. A waiting hall with toilet facilities for visitors is not available.
e. Books and Magazine of the prison library is inadequate.

Indiscriminate use of force

Another important aspect of this conflicting scenario is the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of powers delegated to Administrative and Armed force officers. The negligent attitude of the state in evolving an effective mechanism to assure that the powers delegated are put in to action in order to precisely to cater to the exact task with total good faith, has ended up in becoming means of harassing innocent civilians who are not part of the ongoing military conflict. The extent of harassment is so blown out of proportion, that today it has started causing severe psychological and social trauma among the victims apart from the deep severity of the breach of basic fundamental liberties.

Therefore it is high time that serious concern is paid on doing away with negligent, indiscriminate and irresponsible use of authority by the relevant institutions. The following is a list of such recent incidents of grave negligent and irresponsible violations of fundamental basic human liberties and rights.

* A Tamil youth named Thangarajah Paramanantharjah of Ariampathy was discharged by the Batticalao High Court Judge recently when the state counsel withdrew charges made against him under the PTA. He was indicted

by the Attorney General for supplying food, fuel & other materials to the LTTE during the period between 01.01.97 and 31.03.97

It has been revealed that this person was subjected to severe torture while in custody. This came to light when the DMO submitted his report to the Batticalo High Court, on the request of the counsel representing the Attorney Generals Department. Following the hearing of the report the State Counsel applied to withdraw the case against the accused. Thereafter the accused had been held in remand for a further period of nearly two years.

*A thirty year old woman Samithamby Thangaratnam a mother of two was discharged recently by the Batticalo High Court Judge after two years in

remand. At present she is suffering from a loss of memory due to severe torture. This woman was charged with providing with food and other essential items to the LTTE between 01.01.95 and 12.12.95

When the case was taken up in court, the Judicial Medical Jfficer stated in his report that the said woman had been subjected to severe torture and is suffering from a memory loss. The JMO's report also indicate that several scars of healed wounds were found on her body and also states that the accused had been badly affected psychologically and physically and needs continues treatment. On the instruction of the Attorney Generals Department the High Court Judge discharged the accused.

* On Sunday 10th June Murakkoddanchenai a young Tamil woman named Kandiah Vigneswary was killed due to indiscriminate firing by an army captain.

This occurred when a Sri Lankan army captain was testing their newly received weapons of his camp. In support of the above information at the conclusion of the inquest in to the death of a woman the additional magistrate returned a verdict of murder and ordered the Eravur police to arrest the SL army captain who allegedly test fired a machine gun from his camp on the day of the incident

* it is reported that Tamil passengers on the Kalmunai-Colombo trunk road are being separated from others at three separate check points and asked to reveal their names and addresses to the security forces. Passengers from other communities are not subjected to this particular check.

Another dimension of this scenario is the continues friction between the military and the ordinary civilians in the conflict ridden North-East area and the resulting excesses committed by the military. In the recent past this trend has changed from bad to worse. With the over stretching of the military in to large areas with considerable civilian population the government forces often come under separatist attacks. Since the LTTE and the ordinary civilians are hard to distinguish government forces tend to treat civilians and separatists in the same measure leaving the innocent civilians totally vulnerable to revenge attacks. The intensity of this situation is deteriorating day by day and the following is a such revenge attack by government forces in the North-East during the recent past

* On the 4th July 1999 a group of civilians in Jaffna were lined up and asked to get in from the rear entrance and get off from the front entrance of a partially burning bus by the SL army as the nearby civilians could not reveal any information about the terrorists who set the bus ablaze.

*On the 19th of July 1999 two soldiers of the Sunny village army camp situated in the Mannar island were shot dead by the LTTE's pistol gang while the soldiers were travelling on a motor bike. In response to this attack the soldiers of the army camp played havoc at the Sunny village by beating innocent civilians and destroying their properties. As a result one civilian was killed and a number of persons were injured. Soldiers also set fire to four houses.

* During the last week of July two soldiers were shot dead by the LTTE pistol gang when they came to purchase some stuff to the boutique area in a foot cycle, close to the Mannar stadium. In revenge the SL army set fire to the nearby boutiques and the civilians who came to extinguish the flames were beaten and chased away, resulting some of the civilians to be hospitalised.

* On the 12th of July 1999 a few unidentified masked men entered in to a

house at Pallimune, in Mannar under the pretext of looking out for LTTE cadres and raped a 21 year old women residing in the house after locking the rest of the inmates of the house in a separate room. Thereafter the women was killed by stabbing and torturing. Later during the inquest conducted over the death of the women the family members managed to identify two soldiers alleged to have been involved in this incident.

* On the 1st July 1999 the LTTE exploded a claimor mine and though no one was killed some soldiers were critically injured. In return to this incident the army mercilessly started beating civilians who were hanging around near the scene of incident during that time.

* On 2nd July 1999 one soldier was killed and a few others were injured due to an ambushed attack by the LTTE at Keeranthurai in Ampara. In return the SL army shot and killed two innocent farmers on the same road and declared that the farmers were killed due to a cross fire between the army and the LTTE.

* On the 16th July 1999 number of civilians were injured due to a bicycle bomb explosion in the centre of the Batticalo town. Though it was not clear as to who caused the explosion or its underlying objectives, most of the

people believe it to be an act of the LTTE, still the army in revenge did beat innocent civilians hanging around in the surrounding area and six of them were arrested.

Courtesy: MIRJE - Feb/August 1999.

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