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Monday December 4th, 2023

Police say officers “used necessary force” on autistic teenager and did not assault him

ALLEGED ASSAULT – CCTV footage shows Policemen assaulting teenager

ECONOMYNEXT – The Police department is denying that its officers assaulted autistic teenager Thariq Ahamed at Dharga Town during curfew hours on May 25.

A Media release from Police headquarters said today officers used “necessary force to subdue the youth but did not assault him.”

The release also confirmed that the Acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickremaratne has ordered the Women and Children’s Bureau of the Police to conduct an independent inquiry into the matter.

A subsequent statement said that the three police officers concerned, a Sub-Inspector, Sargeant and Constable have been suspended from duty.  The SI and Seargeant are from the Police College and the Constable from the Aluthgama Police station.

Meanwhile, the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) is yet to begin an investigation into the incident the NCPA Chairman Prof Muditha Vidanapathirana told EconomyNext.

“We have received many complaints and we have asked our cybercrimes unit to validate the video that is being circulated on social media,” he said.

“We have also alerted out Child Protection officer in the area to look into the matter. However until the local police finish their inquiry, we cannot begin an investigation,” he added.

In the narrative released by the Police Media spokesman, 16-year old Thariq rode his bicycle past the Police barrier during curfew hours without wearing a mask and ignored a signal to stop. Sometime later he came back and again ignored a sign to stop and then police grabbed the handlebar and stopped the bike.

“At that stage the bike hit a fishmonger’s table and the boy fell,” the statement said.

When police went up to him “he tried to run away shouting in a loud voice,” it went on.

Then the officers on duty used “necessary force to subdue him.”

The CCTB footage shows Thariq being taken across the road and a struggle between the tall youth and several police officers taking place.

A passerby had informed police this boy was “mentally deficient” and was a resident of Dharga town.

The boy’s father had then come to the scene and both of them had been taken to the police station, the statement said. A statement had been recorded from the father and the boy taken for examination by the Judicial Medical Officer at the Nagoda hospital.

The police statement said that the officers had “not recognized that this youth was mentally deficient. They believed he was a drug addict.”

The boy was released to his father and no legal actions is being taken against him, the press release said.

Thariq, according to his father is autistic which is a developmental disorder, and not a mental illness.

CCTV footage of the incident went viral on June 4, after a local MP Ali Zuhair Mowlana tweeted calling for justice for Thariq.

Twitterati citing the incidents in the United States commented that all those Sri Lankans calling for justice for George Floyd should also call for justice for Thariq.

All day on June 4 #JusticeForThariq was the number one trending hashtag on Twitter in Sri Lanka. (Colombo, June 5, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana


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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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Gov minister highlights abortion rights, sex-ed for children, and Sri Lanka men killing their women

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legislators have politicized the topics of rape and violence without addressing the elephant in the room, Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said in parliament on Monday (4).

“All the members here are talking about rape. What happens after that? We must talk about abortion rights. That is not something anyone wants to touch on, and that is why we are in this place right now,” Thondaman said.

“Despite alarming statistics on rape and violence, women are often blamed and punished for it. The criminalisation of abortion is a major example of this.”

Sri Lanka has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. According to a 2016 estimate by the Health Ministry, he said, approximately 658 abortions take place a day, and close to 250,000 a year.

“That’s 250,000 women whose lives you are endangering.”

He added that what was needed at this point in time was comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for children and young people.

“Only through CSE in schools will children and young people develop, accurate, age appropriate knowledge attitude and skills; positive values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, diversity and attitude and skills that contribute to a safe, healthy and positive relationship.”

Thondaman pointed out that CSE plays a pivotal role in preparing young people for a world where HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender based violence still pose a risk to their well-being.

“CSE basically empowers children take control and make informed decisions freely and responsibly.”

Thondaman also highlighted the findings of a 2021 study (Fatalities_20211109_UNFPA) by the UNFPA and the University of Kelaniya that showed that a majority of women killed in Sri Lanka were murdered by those close to them.

“62 percent of homicides of Sri Lankan women are committed by either an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member. 84 percent are killed in their own homes by someone they know.”

Police and the judiciary have failed Sri Lanka’s women, the minister pointed out.

“Only 5 percent of these cases, between 2013-2017, were ever concluded. Men claim they were provoked, or are of unsound mind or have mental illness: These have been successful defenses. And the Police often express sympathy to this narrative as opposed to the victim’s.”

“We have a history of protecting oppressors.”

It takes 7-10 years for a child rape case to conclude, he pointed out.

Establishment of child courts are needed, he said, as well as several legislative amendments. “The government is working on a new law to reform the domestic violence act, reform of marriage and divorce laws to ensure there is an easier path to divorce: no one should be forced to remain in a marriage that is either abusive or not healthy.” (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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