People in custody held in ‘undisclosed locations’ – The Island

Claiming “enforced disappearances” linked to Aragalaya: Former HRC and OMP officials file a petition FR

Former member of Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission, Ambika Satkunanathan, and former Commissioner of the Office for Missing Persons (OMP), Mirak Raheem, have filed a human rights petition regarding what they called a wave of enforced disappearances.

The respondents are Inspector General of Police, CD Wickremaratne, Minister of Justice, Corrections and Constitutional Reforms, Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, Minister of Public Security, Tiran Alles, Commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage , Air Force Commander, Air Marshall SK Pathirana, Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Office of Missing Persons and Attorney General.

The petitioners challenged what they call the arbitrary, capricious, irrational and ultra vires actions of the police and military in creating an administrative/executive practice of arresting individuals and temporarily holding them in secret detention, contrary to the Constitution, the rule of law and accepted international human rights standards.

The petitioners stated that the recent series of arbitrary arrests, carried out by individuals without identifiable uniforms, with demonstrators being taken away in vehicles which are not identifiable as belonging to the police, and where demonstrators are detained sometimes for several hours , in undisclosed locations, before being produced before a Magistrate. During this period, they are not allowed to inform their relatives of their place of detention and no receipt of arrest is issued to the next of kin. In other cases, unidentified individuals without identifiable uniforms conducted searches for particular individuals.

The petitioners stated that all persons (especially in the current context, protesters) who are arrested must be arrested for a clearly identifiable criminal offence, by officers of the Sri Lankan Police, wearing clearly identifiable uniforms/badges, the families of those arrested must be immediately notified of the arrest and, if present at the time of the arrest, be issued with a receipt for the arrest. That the person be detained in police stations, allowed to see family members and lawyers and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, and brought before a magistrate, sufficient arrangements being made for the persons arrested can obtain legal representation.

The applicants alleged a violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 10, 11, 12(1), 12(2), 13(1), 13(2), 13(3), 13(4), 13( 5) , 14(1)(a), 14(1)(b) and 14(1)(c) of the Constitution. They state that the state’s continued tacit authorization of arbitrary arrests and secret detentions negatively impacts the rule of law and the sovereignty of the people and is contrary to Articles 3 and 4(d) of the Constitution.

Petitioners ask the Court to grant interim orders restraining the defendants, and any other officers serving under them and their agents, from making any arrest and detention, contrary to the Constitution and the law, including the Convention international community for the protection of all persons. From Law No. 5 of 2018 on enforced disappearances. They further call on the IGP, and any other officers serving under him and their agents, to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of any witness to any secret arrest and/or detention. .

The petitioners also asked the Court to order the IGP to formulate guidelines to ensure that there are no arbitrary arrests and secret detentions. Further, the petitioners request the Court to issue appropriate orders for measures to be taken by the National Authority for the Protection of Crime Victims and Witnesses to assess and provide all assistance, l appropriate compensation and support for the recovery and restitution of all individuals (and in the current context, in particular protesters) arrested and detained in a manner contrary to the Constitution and the law, including the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Law No. 5 of 2018.

The app will be supported by Saliya Pieris, Pulasthi Hewamanna, Harini Jaywardena and Fadhila Fairoze.

Comments are closed.