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Friday, May 24, 2024

Sri Lanka Brief Update: Extrajudicial Killings under IGP Deshabandu Thennakoon

Sunanda Deshapriya.

  1. On 25 April 2024 Minister of Public Security speaking at a passing out parade of the Motorcycle Squadron of Special Task Force,  advocated killing suspected criminals without due process: ‘Eliminating criminals from the country is not a sin. Don’t be afraid to use the weapon in your hand for the right thing, and we stand by you.’ The new motorcycle squadron was introduced to crack down on the underworld and organized crime-related activities according to an official statement.
  2. On 27th April 2024 Sri Lanka Bar Association(BASL) passed a resolution calling for ‘the immediate retraction of the Minister’s statement. The BASL calls upon His Excellency the President to forthwith remove Minister Tiran Alles from the portfolio of Public Security as he by his repeated statements encouraging impunity and callous disregard for the rule of law, demonstrated that he is no longer suitable to hold that office.’
  3. In the resolution BASL emphasized that there is an alarming increase in extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, and incidents of torture perpetrated by law enforcement in recent times.
  4. On 21 March 2024 a male person was shot dead by Police Special Task Force (STF) personnel at Ganemulla, Gampaha District, Western Province. According to the police version, the suspect had opened fire at STF personnel who were engaged in searching a house at Sumedha Mawatha in Ganemulla. When police had returned fire, the suspect received fatal injuries and died on admission to a hospital.  Police further said the suspect had been involved in several previous underworld gang-related shootings. The suspect is a 28-year-old resident of Eheliyagoda is an army deserter.  Neither the police nor the media have named the deceased.
  5. On 08 April 2024 Rajapakse Pathirage Dimantha Lakmal (33), an air force corporal was killed in police firing at Angamuwa in Padukka, Colombo District, Western Province. He was a gold medal-winning Air Force rugby player. According to the police version the deceased is suspected to be the shooter involved in the double homicide that took place in the Talgahavila area of Horana on 07.
    • Aunt of Rajapakse Pathirage Dimantha Lakmal told the media that her son was with her girlfriend in Wattala far away from the crime scene. She suspects that Lakmal was abducted and killed.
    • The police spokesperson told the media that the investigating officers reported to him that he was the main suspect in the murder and that he was a drug addict. Before the Rugger matches his blood samples had been checked for banned substances and no drug substances had been found. Rugger is an extreme
    • The police version says that he broke free from the roadblock set up by the Special Task Force. A motorcycle can’t break such a roadblock and flee.
    • The police version says the suspect turned around and fired with a locally made rudimentary pistol-like gun at a police team armed with automatic firearms. It is difficult to believe that an airman would have fired back instead of fleeing if he was able to break through the roadblock.
  6. On 23 April two persons were shot dead by officers of Colombo South Crimes Division, Sri Lanka police at Millawa in Moragahahena, Kalutara District, Western Province. They were Suraj Prabodha Adihetti aka Matthegoda Sudda (42) and Imesh Madhushan Darshan aka Appa (36).  According to the police version they were traveling in a three-wheeler (Tuk Tuk) and opened fire when ordered to stop. Two of them were killed instantly by police fire.
    • Suraj Prabodha Adihetti was shot in the chest and forehead. If they were shot from behind, bullets should have entered from the back.
    • The place where the bullet-hit three-wheeler stopped was dry. His relatives say that Madhushan Darshan’s t-shirt was torn due to being pulled from his shoulder. They further said that there were mud stains on the clothes of both of them.
    • According to Lankaskynews “there is a serious suspicion that Adihetti and Madhushan Darshana were arrested in Moragahahena area and then taken to Moragahahena police station or some other place where they were tortured and beaten and then brought in front of Moragahahena Laugh Gas Super Market and killed.”
  7. None of these extrajudicial killings have been investigated by Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) or any other independent body.
  8. Sri Lanka police have completely ignored the guidelines issued by HRCSL on preventing custodial deaths and extrajudicial killings.


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