Sri Lanka rights body asks police to compensate student victims
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission in a landmark decision ordered compensation for nine students who had been unlawfully assaulted by police who were found guilty of violating both local and international law.
Students had been subjected to cruel and degrading treatment in violation of their rights guaranteed by the constitution as well as international human rights covenants, the commission noted.
In a 32-page report, the commission found that the police had used excessive force to disperse HNDA students at Ward Place Colombo on October 29 and censured the lack of professionalism of the police under IGP N. K. Illangakoon.
Police breached both the universal declaration of human rights and the UN covenant on political and civil rights, the commission said in its findings which will have serious implications for Illangakoon and his seniors.
The Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka report was largely based on expert medical evidence that students had been beaten up using batons and other sharp objects even as they were trying to flee.
The commission noted that police had brutally assaulted even women students who had fallen on the ground in a stampede to avoid being hit by charging constables.
The commission also dismissed the police claim that several of its men were injured. Police failed to submit and medical reports to support the claim of constables getting hurt, according to the commission.
It noted that the arrest of 39 students also may have been illegal as there was no evidence to suggest that due process had been followed. However, the commission made no pronouncement on the arrest.
Student Sashini Sandeepani Kumarasiri was awarded LKR 25,000 while eight other students were awarded LKR 15,000 each.
The IGP was ordered to ensure new training procedures and guide lines in crowd control and a report to be submitted to the commission on or before March 1, 2016.
The commission noted that there was a lack of professionalism in the police and ordered the IGP to cause internal investigations to identify officers who gave orders to assault students as well as those who carried out those illegal orders and take strict disciplinary action on or before March 1, 2016.(COLOMBO, Dec 4, 2015)