01/08/2018, 15.37
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HRCSL slams police for serious human rights violations

by Melani Manel Perera

More than five thousand complaints have been filed in first nine months of 2017, 1,174 of which against the police. Detention and torture during interrogations are singled out. Lack of resources slows the wheels of justice.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s “police seriously violated the human rights of the people”, said Deepika Udagama, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HCRSL) at the first press conference of the year last Thursday.

Speaking about the past year, Ms Udagama said that in the first nine months of 2017, the Commission received 5,614 complaints. Of these, 1,174 were against the police for illegal detention and torture.

She also highlighted the lack of resources to deal with the high number of complaints and noted that "the law must be applied to all citizens in the same way".

"From the point of view of respect for human rights, there have been improvements. There is freedom of thought and freedom of assembly and the culture of fear has almost disappeared,” she explained.

“However,” she added, “the most important difficulties stem from police conduct during the detention and the interrogation phases."

Between January and September 2017, the Commission recorded 249 cases of torture, 298 cases of arbitrary detention and 323 cases of threatening behaviour.

The HRCSL’s recommendations "do not have much resonance in the media,” the HRC chairperson said. “One or two television channels that talk about them cannot improve the situation in the country on their own. Everyone is responsible for helping our office."

The Supreme Court "is coming up with very important rulings on matters concerning fundamental rights, such as arrest, detention, torture, sexual crimes and disappearances. This must be reported on the front page, and not in the third or fourth.”

“We ask all media to provide proper coverage, because such rulings can make a difference in the legal and constitutional protection of fundamental human rights."

Another critical point that must be quickly addressed "is the lack of resources. We do not have enough employees. This causes long waits and does not produce rapid service."

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