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Sri Lanka Urged to Implement Anti-Torture Measures on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

June 26, 2024 – As the world observes the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, calls for the stringent enforcement of anti-torture laws in Sri Lanka have intensified. This follows a landmark judgment by the Matara High Court, which sentenced three police officers, including the former Officer-in-Charge of the Tissamaharama Police, to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for the abduction and torture of five individuals in 2003. The court also imposed fines and mandated compensation of Rs. 500,000 to each victim, underscoring the need for accountability in human rights violations.

Despite the enactment of the Torture Act No. 22 of 1994, which criminalizes torture and aligns with the United Nations Convention Against Torture, reports indicate that torture remains widespread within Sri Lanka’s law enforcement agencies. Recent incidents, such as the brutal assault of a 23-year-old youth by Medawachchiya police officers, highlight the ongoing urgency for robust anti-torture enforcement.

From 2011 to 2017, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka received nearly 3,000 complaints of torture, with 588 complaints reported in 2022 alone. While the Attorney General has filed 115 cases under the Torture Act, resulting in around 35 convictions, the struggle for justice continues.

The statement issued today emphasizes the need for strict enforcement of existing laws, the establishment of an independent authority to investigate police abuse, and comprehensive education and training for law enforcement. These measures are crucial for upholding human rights and ensuring justice for victims of torture in Sri Lanka.

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