Police powers romote torture says Colombo Judge

Place: Tamil Eelam | Courtesy: British Refugee Council
| Date: 19961100

"Supreme Court Judge P Ramanathan says despitejudicial orders against law-enforcement off cers, torture in police stations continues unabated. Police have powers to record statements, investigate and pros- ecute offenders. The concentration of powers allow the police to take short-cuts by torture in custody, says Mr Ramanathan.

Human rights agencies say prolonged detention also leads to ill-treatment. Currently there are over 1,100 Tamils in custody, 300 of whom are held for over two years. MPs who met detainees in Kalutara prison in early Novem- ber say six Tamil youths are held for over five years and another six above the age of 50 are detained for over 18 months. Seven had been earlier re- leased, arrested again and held for over two years.

Over 100 Tamil prisoners in Kalutara began a fast on 28 November demand- ing trials or release. Following a fast protest by detainees in June, the De- fence Ministry promised to solve the issue within three months. Prisoners bitterly complain that the Ministry has failed to take any action. Lawyers say the Defence Ministry has failed to act on several recommendations for re- lease made by the Attorney General's Department.

Human rights agencies are concerned about illegal detentions. Some prison- ers continue to languish in prison despite court orders for their release. In a habeas corpus application, Meenatchy Chitrasenan alleges that her daughter Thirumagal arrested in September is illegally detained in a police station without being produced before a court."