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Deaths in police custody are of serious concern

Written By NAFSO on Friday, May 23, 2014 | 11:08:00 AM

A Press Release from the Standing Committee on Rule of Law, Bar Association of Sri Lanka forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Series of deaths of persons in police custody as suspects regarding the commission of criminal offences is of serious concern. The identical explanations given by the police regarding each such case of death while in custody and acceptance of such blatant manifest untruths has made a mockery of the system of administration of justice in our country. It is an insult to the intelligence of our people if the police expect the people to believe these fantasy stories about attacks on them by suspects while in custody and handcuffed.
What is strange is that these cases of brutal murder has gone unchecked and the absurd explanations given by the police has gone unchallenged.
These killings violates all international conventions on protection of persons in state custody and is in violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is enshrined in our constitution that every person is presumed to be innocent till proved guilty by a competent court (Article 13(5)), no person shall be punished with death or imprisonment except by order of a competent court (Article 13(4)), any person charged with an offence is entitled to be heard at a fair trial by a competent court (Article 13(3)), any person shall not be held in custody, detained or deprived of personal liberty except upon order of a judge made in accordance with procedure established by law (Article 13(2)).
While these murders are in violation of the constitution what is of grave concern is the impunity with which these murders are committed. In no country that respects rule of law and democratic governance can these acts be condoned under any circumstances and the responsibility lies with the state to account for these violations of fundamental rights.
Failure to act decisively against such persons responsible for the commission of these crimes, adversely affect the image of our country and the people lose faith in the judicial system of our country. Nothing short of a full inquiry by a commission of inquiry to be constituted of present or retired judges of the Superior Courts can redeem the image of the country and restore confidence in the administration of justice. Therefore we demand the appointment of such a judicial commission to inquire and report on the deaths of suspects under police custody during the last at least 3 years.
LAL WIJENAVAKE PRIVANTHA GAMAGE
CHAIRMAN CONVENER
STANDING COMMIHEE ON RULE OF LAW — BASL
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