5.5 C
London
Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The case of Nimal Gunaratna vs. ASP Ranmal Kodituwakku (2006) and how impunity begets more violence

Senior DIG Ranmal Kodituwakku has been Senior accused of torture, sexual abuse & cover up in now well known case involving a innocent person.

His history as a police officer is marred by  violence unleased against suspects and unruly behaviour towards officials  in number of cases.

He has never been charged for crimes he involved in, in the past. He has enjoyed continues impunity which is the norm in state violence against its citizens in Sri Lanka. Violent behaviour  he is accused of  today are direct result of prevailing impunity in the country.

The case of Nimal Gunarathna 

In June 2000 a person named Nimal Gunaratne was arrested by the Pandure police. No case was  filed against him.

Gunaratne was arrested by the Panadura police and severely tortured by the police. At the time then  Assistant Superintendent of Police Ranmal Kodituwakku was attached to the Panadure police station.

His father Lucky Kodituwakku was inspector General of the Police.

Issuing a statement Asian Human Rights Commission alleged that ASP Ramal Kodituwakku also  assaulted Nimal Gunarthne.

Nimal Gunarathne lost his eyesight in one eye and suffered from several other serious injuries due to this torture.

After Nimal Gunarthana made a complaint against the police officers he had been receiving imminent threats on his life by the said Ranmal Kodituwakku according to the AHRC.

Several unknown people visited Nimal Gunarathne’s garden  and also they come and stay near his house “almost every day”, AHRC statement said.

Nimal Gunarathne was kept incommunicado for3 days hand cupped to a bed in ASP Ramnal Kodituwakku’s office room at Panadure police station. During this initial period he was handcuffed to a bed and denied food, water and toilet facilities. He was thereafter held in custody for around three months.

Nimal Gunarathne filed a Fundamental Rights petition at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and  won the case. But he was given only a nominal compensation for loss of an eye and torture at the hand of Police. ( For more details see below the AHRC statement critical of the SC determination)

Ranmal Kodituwakku was neither absolves no punished.

Until 2006 the Attorney General (AG) did not file  indictments (criminal charges) against the responsible police officers under the CAT Act no. 22 of 1994, even though the investigation of this case had been concluded.

As his father was the Inspector General of the Police at that time nether Attorney General Department  nor Police Department  took any action against ASP Kodituwakku.

The case of Nimal Punchihewa 

Nimal Gunarathne complained to the Sri Lankan National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as well. Then senior lawyer Fais Musthapa was the chairperson and Lawyer Nimal Punchihewa was the inquiring officer of the  NHRC.

Then inquiring officer at the NHRC Nimal Punichhewa was threatened by then ASP Kodituwakku

On 22 January, 2002  Mr. Nimal Punchihewa,  was conducting an inquiry into a complaint of illegal arrest against three policemen of the rank ‘Officers in Charge of Police’ (OICs). The Assistant Superintendent of Police  Ranmal Kodituwakku, disrupted the inquiry, used abusive language against the inquiring officer and walked away with the three police officers facing the inquiry. (For more details see AHRC Urgent Appeal given below)

ASP Ranmal Kodituwakku was quoted in a Sunday newspaper trying to put the blame on the inquiring officer Nimal Punchihewa.

Kodituwakku had also brought up the issue of rank, saying he is a high ranking officer and Punchihewa had no business to speak to him in that manner. Kodituwakku has alleged that Punchihewa also referred to his father, the IGP, in a manner that was insulting, unprofessional and biased.

But no inquiry was held and ASP Ranmal Kodituwkku continue to climbed up in the ladder.

The ironey is that Nimal Punhihewa has been appointed as the Chair person of the Sri Lanka Election Commission while ASP Ranmal Kodituwakku has claimed up to the level of Senior Deputy Inspector General. Next level is IGP!

And Ranmal Kodituwakku’s abusive an violent behaviour continues to make news up to today.

SRI LANKA: SC decision on the case of D.A. Nimal Silva Gunaratna vs. ASP  requires a response from the Attorney General and IGP

AS-295-2006

SRI LANKA: SC decision on the case of D.A. Nimal Silva Gunaratna vs. ASP Ranmal Kodituwakku requires a response from the Attorney General and IGP

On November 16, 2006 the Supreme Court decided the case of Dalkadura Arachige Nimal Silva Gunaratna (the Virtual Complainant  the case was in fact filed by an Attorney-at-Law on his behalf) vs. ASP Ranmal Kodituwakku and eight others.

The Supreme Court held that all the violations complained of by the virtual complainant, that is: illegal arrest violating article 13(1), illegal detention, (article 13(2)) and torture, (article 11), of the Constitution, have taken place while he was in custody at Panadura Police Station. The court ordered Rs. 50,000 to be paid by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) as compensation, Rs. 5,000 by Sub Inspector Laksman of the Panadura ASP’s office for causing torture leading to the loss of an eye, and a further Rs. 20,000 to be paid by the IGP as costs.

The court held that:
I am satisfied on the material placed before court that the arrest of the virtual petitioner by the Panadura police was unlawful and that the injuries complained of by the virtual petitioner were sustained while in the custody of the Panadura police. The conduct of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th respondents therefore cannot be ignored.

This conclusion would amount to a declaration of violations of rights made under article 126 of the Constitution, although the judgement does expressly state this. The court exonerated the 1st respondent who was the Officer-in-Charge of the Quick Response Unit (QRU) which made the arrest and had custody of the virtual complainant throughout the period of his detention, during which time the torture took place, on the basis that the ASP had satisfied the court that on the day of the arrest he was engaged in other duties.

This case was filed in 2000 after an incident which the petitioner alleged had started with his arrest on June 19, and which continued while he was in detention at the ASP’s office where he was held incommunicado for a period of three days. During this initial period he was handcuffed to a bed and denied food, water and toilet facilities. He was thereafter held in custody for around three months.

The respondents denied the date of arrest. However, the court held that the date of arrest had been proved by the virtual complainant with adequate evidence. The court rejected the respondent’s version of the arrest, detention and torture. The respondents claim that the injury to the eye of the virtual complainant was caused due to a fall when he tried to escape the arrest and fell while running. However, this version was rejected by the court.

The case raises several important issues, of which some of the more salient ones are the command responsibility of an officer in charge of a special unit, which in this case was the QRU. The acts of arresting, detaining and torturing a suspect that occur by the actions of any unit are at all times the responsibility of the Officer-in-Charge. Also, the issue of compensation for a permanent injury such as the loss of an eye due to torture intended or otherwise, is also relevant and important.

While the judgement deals with the possibility that the 1st respondent, the ASP was not present at the time of arrest on June 19, it does not reject the evidence of the virtual complainant that he was kept in detention by the orders of this respondent and in his own office.

The question of knowledge on the part of the 1st respondent about the arrest, detention and torture has not been rejected by court. Therefore on the basis of a series of judgments of the Supreme Court, the liability of the 1st respondent, both as the commanding officer responsible for the orders for arrest, detention and whatever occurred following the period of detention cannot be separated from the finding of the court on the date of arrest, the duration of the illegal detention and the fact of torture having taken place. Besides his responsibility as the commanding officer, his knowledge of the prolonged detention and torture make him complicit in the violations of these rights.

From the point of view of compensation the loss of an eye is a grave injury and would naturally lead to consequences of incapacities for employment by the very fact of this loss of a natural capacity. Whether such a person had knowledge about the commission of crimes (none of which were proven in this case) is not a relevant factor in considering the impact of the injury caused for future employment and earning.

The further question is the impact of this judgement on the criminal prosecution for causing torture on the petitioner. This case had been investigated by a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and representatives for the Attorney General’s Department have assured the virtual complainant and his family about such inquiries being made. However, no prosecution has yet been filed even though six years have now lapsed from the time of the incident.

One would hope that the Attorney General will take action even at this late date to prosecute this case. In doing so the prosecutor must look into all the evidence that is before him to see whether it is only the 4th respondent who is responsible for the torture and should particularly examine the evidence of direct knowledge and connivance on the part of the 1st respondent as the Officer-in-Charge of the QRU regarding the allegation of torture.

The Supreme Court decision has no direct bearing on the exoneration of the 1st respondent on criminal charges if the available evidence shows that the 1st respondent was aware of, and was in fact involved in, giving directions and personally being involved in the arrest, detention and the torture of the victim. It should also be noted that the injury caused to the victim is not the sole ground on which the allegation of torture is based. Other forms of harassment such as deprivation of food, water and toilet facilities and other forms of assault are sufficient grounds to establish a charge of torture.

The Attorney General’s Department, in filing charges under Act No. 22 of 1994 relating to this incident should take all relevant materials to a charge for torture or cruel and other inhuman treatment as required by law. It is to be noted that not being careful about the framing of charges in the proper manner under Act No. 22 of 1994 has lead to some confusion in previous trials.

A further obligation on the part of the Inspector General of Police, who had to pay the compensation on behalf of his subordinates for causing illegal arrest, detention and torture, is to take disciplinary action against everyone who is responsible for such acts.

It would be contradictory to his duties for the Inspector General of Police to have to pay compensation for the acts of his subordinates whilst at the same time allowing them to continue at their posts as if nothing has happened. Further, the Inspector General of Police in dealing with this case should look into the totality of the evidence available, including the evidence discovered by the Special Investigating Unit. If such evidence leads to the conclusion that the 1st respondent bears responsibility, either directly through his personal involvement or indirectly as the OIC, for the violations of rights of the virtual complainant, then the IGP is under obligation to take appropriate legal action accordingly.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police to look into the allegations of Dalkadura Arachige Nimal Silva Gunaratna and to take appropriate legal action
November 30, 2006
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

AHRC

(Sri Lanka): High-level police attack on NHRC

Mr. Fais Musthapa
Chairperson
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 50, Dr. N W Perera Mawatha
Borella, Colombo 8
SRL LANKA
FAX: +941 694 924

Re. Obstruction to Inquiry and Disrespectful Behavior towards the National Human Rights Commission by Assistant Superintendent of Police Ranmal Kodithuwakku

8th February, 2002

Dear Mr. Musthapha

This urgent correspondence is regarding a high level police attack on the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on 22 January, 2002.

On that day, Mr. Nimal Punchihewa, an inquiring officer of the Sri Lankan National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), was conducting an inquiry into a complaint of illegal arrest against three policemen of the rank ‘Officers in Charge of Police’ (OICs). The Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Ranmal Kodituwakku, disrupted the inquiry, used abusive language against the inquiring officer and walked away with the three police officers facing the inquiry. For details, kindly refer to AHRC Urgent Appeal UA-05-2002, available online at: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/update/viewnews.cgi?newsid1012299671,69887,

This matter has received publicity through the local press as well as the international media. However, no action has yet been taken against the police officer by either the government or the National Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile, the ASP concerned was quoted in a Sunday newspaper trying to put the blame on the inquiring officer concerned:

He stated that Kodituwakku goes on to say that after giving a description of what their duties are as police officers he informed Punchihewa that as an inquiring officer he had no authority to decide if a criminal case entertained at the Special Crimes Investigation Bureau was of a civil nature or not. Kodituwakku then states that Punchihewa began shivering in a fit of rage and started shouting at him stating that he was out of line to tell him anything like that and that ¡¥I should know I am before the Commission on Human Rights.¡¦

Kodituwakku had also brought up the issue of rank, saying he is a high ranking officer and Punchihewa had no business to speak to him in that manner. Kodituwakku has alleged that Punchihewa also referred to his father, the IGP, in a manner that was insulting, unprofessional and biased.

In the circumstances, what is at stake is the very authority of the commission itself and the confidence ordinary citizens have in the Commission. The following acts are particularly of concern:
A police officer challenges the Commissions¡¦ authority; 
He further disrupts the proceedings and convinces the other officers to walk away with him; 
He abuses other staff of the Commission; 
He tries to start a police inquiry against the inquiry officer; 
He tries to intimidate the inquiring officer; and 
He makes public statements falsely accusing the inquiring officer concerned. 

If such gross abuses do not lead to serious action, the future of the NHRC will be very bleak.

We urge the Commission to take adequate action to demonstrate its authority as well as assure the people that it is able to provide protection for those who make complaints to and its inquiring officers. The alleged statement by the ASP implying that senior police officers should not be questioned by civil authorities is very worrying. It indicates the perception of police that they are somewhat superior people and that civilians with any level of authority have no right to conduct inquiries against police.

We urge that quick and serious action be taken against this disturbing attack on the Commission. We also urge the Commission to assure the public that such action is being taken in order to maintain public confidence in the institution pending the further inquiries.

Yours sincerely

Basil Fernando
Executive Director

 

 

Archive

Latest news

Related news