Kandy Diocese demands justice for torture victims

Torture continues to be systematically used almost every day by police, says Sri Lankan priest
Kandy Diocese demands justice for torture victims

Buddhist monks in Kandy June 25 sign a petition by Kandy Diocese's Human Rights Office to send to the President, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, against torture. (Photo by K.W. Nissanka)

ucanews.com reporter, Kandy
Sri Lanka
June 30, 2016
The Human Rights Office of Kandy Diocese in Sri Lanka has organized a petition calling on the government to prosecute cases under the 1994 Torture Act.

Father Nandana Manatunga, director of the Human Rights Office, has begun a signature campaign urging the Attorney General to file cases from the last ten years under the Torture Act.

"When the Attorney General's Office became accountable to the President's Office, cases were no longer filed under the act. There are now several cases of torture before the Supreme Court but they were not filed under the Torture Act," said Father Manatunga, who campaigns against police torture.

"We have had one conviction from the Central province on Dec. 3, 2015, where two police officers were sentenced to seven years imprisonment but this case was filed in 2005," said Father Manatunga.

"It is the one and only judgment from the Kandy High Court regarding torture for the whole Central province. There are a few more cases of torture still before the court but these were filed under the Torture Act before 2005," he said.

"Torture continues to be systematically used almost every day by police but the Attorney General is not using the Torture Act. The special investigation unit that investigated cases of torture was also dismantled during the previous regime," said Father Manatunga.

Kandy Diocese's Human Rights Office takes care of torture victims and helps them and their families bring their case before the courts.

As part of the campaign, the office is hosting an exhibition that depicts real stories of torture, recent judgments, posters on human rights, while exploring transitional justice, disappearances and the rights of prisoners.

One of the signatories to the petition, Thisara Wijeratne, 38, from Dangolla, Kandy, said that every victim has the right to know the truth and untold suffering is going on in the country.

"The victims have become helpless because it has been done by the police," Wijeratne said.

"More than 5,000 people have signed the petition and we hope to collect 10,000 signatures before we finally hand over the petition to the President, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General," Father Manatunga told ucanews.com.

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