June 30, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Thursday joined the public march organized by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) launching its Anti-Torture Campaign to eradicate torture, especially under police custody.
The HRCSL organized march under the theme "Stop Torture" commenced at the office of the Human Rights Commission at Kynsey Road, in Borella and ended up at the Independent Square.
Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission, Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayake, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, Dr. Deepika Udagama, human rights activists, police officers, school students and many others joined in the walk.
"The HRCSL will conduct a public march to kick off the anti -torture campaign with participation of President Maithripala Sirisena," Chairperson of the HRCSL Dr. Deepika Udagama told media yesterday.
Addressing the media yesterday, the HRCSL Chairperson said the complaints regarding torture, especially under the police custody has increased even seven years after the war ended.
She said 413 complaints regarding torture in government institutions had been received by HRCSL during 2015 and 53 complaints have been received so far this year.
UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, who concluded a visit to Sri Lanka last month said unfortunately the practice of torture during investigations and interrogations is still present in Sri Lanka although the number of torture related incidents have reduced when compared to the peak of the war.
The HRCSL Chairperson said the police are using torture as a tool to elicit information from suspects but it is not effective for crime prevention.
She pointed out that according to statistics, conviction rate remained as low as 5 percent and there was no evidence that the crime rate could be reduced through torture.
The Chairperson suggested that the police need to be educated on torture and alternative methods to obtain information.
The HRCSL last month issued a set of Directives to be followed by designated officials arresting persons under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act.
Following the measure, President Sirisena issued a series of new directives to the police and security forces to follow when arresting and detaining persons suspected of terrorism related offences. According to the President's directives, arresting officers should not physically harass, torture or humiliate suspects in a disrespectful manner.
The Chairperson said as some law enforcement officials ignore the HRCSL directives, the Commission is seeking more powers through the new constitution and has sent its proposals to the government leaders.
Dr. Udagama said the Commission will strictly exercise its powers to eradicate torture, especially in police custody, adding that the investigations into complaints of torture had been accelerated.