SRI LANKA: An injured cyclist’s complaint is refused and mishandled after he is knocked down by police officers

By William Gomes
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Balasuriyage Premasiri, a 47-year-old farmer, was cycling home from a

friend's house on 11 November 2009 at about 7pm when he was knocked

down by officers in a three-wheeler vehicle as they tried to ask him

for directions. The three-wheeler stopped and the officers briefly

alighted, but Premasiri reports that he was unable to speak and the

men drove off without offering help. He identified Sub Inspector

Thilina of Kataragama Police Station, along with a Constable Sanjeewa

and one more officer.
Premasiri's bicycle was damaged and dented. After being helped by a

friend called Champka and his neighbour, the victim was taken to

Kataragama hospital with his wife shortly after 8pm.

The source said on examination he was told that four teeth had been

knocked out and that another damaged tooth would need to be removed;

he was warded for treatment. On 12 November he reports that he was

visited by two officers from the Kataragama police traffic section at

around 11am who listened to his report but didn't record it. On 14

November Premasiri discharged himself from hospital.

He went to Kataragama station to file a complaint on 19 November at

around 3pm and asked to speak with Sub Inspector Thilina. An officer,

Constable Anthony, reportedly refused to help him and used abusive

language, accusing him of having crashed his bicycle while drunk. He

reports that he was literally chased out of the station.

When Premasiri returned on 1 December 2009 to try once more, a

constable reluctantly recorded the complaint. However he then asked

Premasiri to sign it after refusing to read the content to him. He

signed the document.
According to a local human rights group a apparent investigation has

been launched since then, and the victim has not been contacted by

police or any other authority although he has lodged a complaint with

the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. Other written complaints

were sent to the Inspector General of Police, Assistant Superintendent

of Police of the Southern Province, the Senior Superintendent of

Police in Hambanthota and the Officer in charge of Katharagama Police

Station on 29 April 2010.
The local human rights group said an efficient investigation will not

take place due to the common lack of action taken by police officers

in complaints against other police. The human rights group said they

are aware, bullying tactics - many of them illegal - are a common

recourse in Sri Lankan police stations.
According to the human rights group the difficulties experienced by

the victim in filing his complaint must be thoroughly investigated so

any officers found to be flouting police procedure are disciplined

accordingly. According to the human rights group an investigation must

also immediately be launched into the accident to allow for the

victim, who is a farmer, to file for compensation.
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wrote to Mr. Mahinda Balasuriya

Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohan Peiris Attorney General , Secretary

National Police Commission , Secretary Human Rights Commission of SRI

LANKA calling for them to ensure that a thorough, impartial

investigation is conducted into this case