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NewsSRI LANKA: Eighth case of extrajudicial killing of beggars in the Kalaniya Police Division should be investigated

SRI LANKA: Eighth case of extrajudicial killing of beggars in the Kalaniya Police Division should be investigated

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SRI LANKA: Eighth case of extrajudicial killing of beggars in the Kalaniya Police Division should be investigated

October 6, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION-URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-194-2011

6 October 2011
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SRI LANKA: Eighth case of extrajudicial killing of beggars in the Kalaniya Police Division should be investigated

ISSUES: Extrajudicial killing; impunity; rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is making an exceptional Urgent Appeal after observing the increased numbers of systematic extrajudicial killings of beggars in Sri Lankan cities over the past few months. According to information that the AHRC has received, a beggar was clubbed to death by unidentified assailants with a sharp weapon during the early hours of 4 October 2011 at Kelaniya in Gampaha District. This is the eighth beggar who is reported to have been killed in the past 3 months. In the name of modernization and the beautification of the cities, around a dozen beggars were similarly killed in the city of Colombo in 2010. Investigation or prosecution of the assailants were denied in all of these cases. Therefore, justice was denied. The case is yet another in a very long list of extrajudicial killings by the Sri Lankan police.

CASE NARRATIVE:
We, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are making this exceptional Urgent Appeal after observing the increased numbers of systematic extrajudicial killings of beggars in the cities of Sri Lanka over the past few months.

According to information that the AHRC has received, another beggar was clubbed to death by unidentified assailants with a sharp weapon during the early hours of 4 October 2011 in Kelaniya in Gampaha District. The beggar was found with severe head injuries on the road in front of ‘Priyantha Iron Tech’ of Biyagama Road, Gonawala, Kalaniya.

This is the eighth such instance in which a beggar was killed by a blow to the head in the past 3 months within the Kalaniya Police Division. Earlier, the police recovered the bodies of seven beggars from various locations in urban areas with severe head injuries. The extrajudicial killing of beggars has been reported in the Paliyagoda, Kaliniya and Kiribathgoda areas of the Kalaniya Police Division.

The police have yet to uncover the motive behind this mindless killing. The police reported that they believe these killings are being carried out by cliques who make money from these beggars, and ask them to meet specific monetary targets. When the beggars are unable to meet the targets, they are badly assaulted or killed.

The beggars who were reported dead to the Kalaniya Police Division were found at the following locations:

1. Nawaloka Circle, Paliyagoda

2. Pattiya Junction, Paliyagoda

3. Near the ‘Sanasa Bank’ of Biyagama Road in Paliyagoda

4. Near the 4th mile post, Kandy Road in Paliyagoda

5. At turning road to the Pattiya Junction from Biyagama Road in Paliyagoda

6. At Kiribathgoda Town

7. At seventh mile post in Kelaniya

In 2010, as the Sri Lankan government prepared for the ‘International Indian Film Academy’ Awards (IIFA) the government created propaganda about the need to beautify the city by removing beggars. Soon after, there was a mysterious series of extrajudicial killings of around a dozen beggars in the city of Colombo.

Beggars are usually disabled people in wheelchairs, and as such it is not necessary for a thief to kill a beggar. Moreover, by their very nature, beggars have very little and it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to steal what little resources they do have. As no accidental circumstances have come to light, it is clear that these killings are not accidents.

In one reported case, the beggar was a disabled lottery ticket seller. He suffered a severe head injury which proved to be fatal, likely caused by a blow with a heavy stone. The circumstances suggest a deliberate intention to kill.

Over the past two years, the AHRC has observed that those who were alleged to be criminals were killed at police stations shortly after they were arrested. Sri Lankan society seems to have gotten used to the idea of killings as the solution to wider societal problems.

It is the peremptory norm of the state to protect the citizens of its country. Moreover, the state has implemented laws which oblige it to protect the rights and safety of every individual. In order to fulfill such an obligation, the state has established law enforcement agencies to investigate violations and the breaching of implemented laws so as to bring those who has violated these laws before a court of law for appropriate sanctions.

In any democracy, the poorest of the poor must be given extra protection Affirmative action must be adopted so that social justice is a reality for every individual in Sri Lanka.. The meaning and value of human rights lies in the understanding that every member of society will be under its care, not just certain segments of society.

When the basic elements of the investigation and prosecution process are paralyzed, the practice of killing and the adoption of systematic practices that are used to eliminate many of the problems faced by society are used instead. Such a practice will ultimately destroy the basic structure of civil society in Sri Lanka.

The deaths of these beggars should be investigated promptly, efficiently and impartially. The responsible perpetrators should be brought before the court of law and should be prosecuted and those who are found guilty should be penalized.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The Constitution of Sri Lanka has guaranteed the right freedom from torture. According to Article 11 of the Constitution ‘No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. Further, Article 13(4) “No person shall be punished with death or imprisonment except by order of a competent court, made in accordance with procedure established by law. The arrest, holding in custody, detention or other deprivation of personal liberty of a person, pending investigation or trial, shall not constitute punishment.” Further article 13 (5) guarantees the right of presumption of innocence until being proven guilty.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Nevertheless the lack of protection offered to those who are willing to take cases against abusive police officers and the state authorities, means that the law is under-used continues to be employed as a tool by the police to harass people. This not only takes a long-term toll on the victim and his or her family, but on society as a whole, by the undermining of civilian respect for the law and encouraging impunity.
SUGGESTED ACTION: Please send a letter to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations extra judicial killings by the unknown perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department.

The AHRC has also written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on this regard.

To support this appeal please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:
Dear ________,

Name of Victim
: Beggar killed at ‘Priyantha Iron Tech’ of Biyagama Road, Gonawala, Kalaniya on the road
Alleged perpetrators: Unknown group of persons
Date of incident: 3 October 2011
Place of incident: Kalaniya Police Station
According to the information I have received, another beggar was clubbed to death by unidentified assailants with a sharp weapon during the early hours of 4 October 2011 in Kelaniya in Gampaha District. The beggar was found with severe head injuries on the road in front of ‘Priyantha Iron Tech’ of Biyagama Road, Gonawala, Kalaniya.

This is the eighth such instance in which a beggar was killed by a blow to the head in the past 3 months within the Kalaniya Police Division. Earlier, the police recovered the bodies of seven beggars from various locations in urban areas with severe head injuries. The extrajudicial killing of beggars has been reported in the Paliyagoda, Kaliniya and Kiribathgoda areas of the Kalaniya Police Division.

The police have yet to uncover the motive behind this mindless killing. The police reported that they believe these killings are being carried out by cliques who make money from these beggars, and ask them to meet specific monetary targets. When the beggars are unable to meet the targets, they are badly assaulted or killed.
The beggars who were reported dead to the Kalaniya Police Division were found at the following locations:

Nawaloka Circle, Paliyagoda
Pattiya Junction, Paliyagoda
Near the ‘Sanasa Bank’ of Biyagama Road in Paliyagoda
Near the 4th mile post, Kandy Road in Paliyagoda
At turning road to the Pattiya Junction from Biyagama Road in Paliyagoda
At Kiribathgoda Town
At seventh mile post in Kelaniya

In 2010, as the Sri Lankan government prepared for the ‘International Indian Film Academy’ Awards (IIFA) the government created propaganda about the need to beautify the city by removing beggars. Soon after, there was a mysterious series of extrajudicial killings of around a dozen beggars in the city of Colombo.
Beggars are usually disabled people in wheelchairs, and as such it is not necessary for a thief to kill a beggar.

Moreover, by their very nature, beggars have very little and it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to steal what little resources they do have. As no accidental circumstances have come to light, it is clear that these killings are not accidents.

In one reported case, the beggar was a disabled lottery ticket seller. He suffered a severe head injury which proved to be fatal, likely caused by a blow with a heavy stone. The circumstances suggest a deliberate intention to kill.

Over the past two years, the AHRC has observed that those who were alleged to be criminals were killed at police stations shortly after they were arrested. Sri Lankan society seems to have gotten used to the idea of killings as the solution to wider societal problems.

It is the peremptory norm of the state to protect the citizens of its country. Moreover, the state has implemented laws which oblige it to protect the rights and safety of every individual. In order to fulfill such an obligation, the state has established law enforcement agencies to investigate violations and the breaching of implemented laws so as to bring those who has violated these laws before a court of law for appropriate sanctions.

In any democracy, the poorest of the poor must be given extra protection Affirmative action must be adopted so that social justice is a reality for every individual in Sri Lanka.. The meaning and value of human rights lies in the understanding that every member of society will be under its care, not just certain segments of society.
When the basic elements of the investigation and prosecution process are paralyzed, the practice of killing and the adoption of systematic practices that are used to eliminate many of the problems faced by society are used instead. Such a practice will ultimately destroy the basic structure of civil society in Sri Lanka.
The deaths of these beggars should be investigated promptly, efficiently and impartially. The responsible perpetrators should be brought before the court of law and should be prosecuted and those who are found guilty should be penalized.
I request your urgent intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of the extrajudicial killing of the victim. Those who responsible for the deaths of these innocent people must be investigated and prosecuted and penalized.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. N K Illangakoon
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: igp@police.lk

2. Ms. Eva Wanasundra
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: ag@attorneygeneral.gov.lk

3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +94 11 2 395310      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk or polcom@sltnet.lk

4. Secretary
Human Rights Commission
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +94 11 2 694 925      end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk 


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia

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