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