Sri Lanka: Suspect in rape of 14-year-old girl released without proper investigation

Sri Lanka: Suspect in rape of 14-year-old girl released without proper investigation

ISSUES: child abuse; rape police investigation; impunity; rule of law; justice

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Dear Friends,

According to information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a 14-year-old girl was abducted and raped by her school bus driver on 19th June 2016. Later, she was threatened to keep quiet or her parents and other family members would be killed. Despite the family members filing a complaint with the Haputale Police Station, the case has not been investigated. The alleged suspect, who belongs to a wealthy family, was simply released, without him being produced before a Magistrate. The victim’s family says that as they belong to an ethnic and religious minority in the region, the police have not given them attention in their quest for justice. The case illustrates the collapse of the rule of law in the country.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Ms. Violet Rose of Thotugala Estate, Haputale in Badulla District of Uva Province, is married and a mother of two children, a girl and a boy. She is a housewife, while his husband is a driver who owns a van that he offers on hire. Violet and her family are ethnic Tamils and ardent followers of the Roman Catholic region. They live within a small community in a tea estate that is surrounded, predominantly, by the majority Sinhalese people.

Violet’s daughter is a 14-year-old girl. Her daughter (herein referred to as ‘Meena’) is studying in the Tamil Central College, Haputale, and she is in grade 09. Violet’s son is working in a spice garden.

On the 19 June 2016, Meena was returning from the Roman Catholic Church at around 11 a.m. She traveled by bus about seven kilometers, and was walking home the last half kilometer, after getting down from the bus.

As Meena was walking home, a three-wheeler stopped and offered her a ride. Meena knew the two men who were seated behind and therefore she got into the three-wheeler. The two men who were seated behind were the bus driver and the conductor of a private bus in which she used to travel sometimes to school. Students call the bus driver Mr. Thushara (29).

To her surprise, Meena was not taken home but to the bus driver’s house. Meena objected and questioned them. She pleaded to them to take her home. But the three-wheeler driver and the bus conductor left Meena with the bus driver. The driver forcefully took Meena into the house. Meena learned that there was not no one in the house. She was frightened and yelled for help. She went into shock and panic.

Meena shouted and made several attempts to run away from the house, but failed. The alleged suspect Thushara then raped her. After this, she was threatened not to reveal what happened to anyone. If she revealed the incident, she was threatened that her parents would be killed. Then the suspect dropped Meena near her house at around 3 p.m. With difficulty she walked to her home. She was in fear.

Due to the fear that the suspect would harm her family, Meena kept the matter secret for few days but finally revealed it to her mother on the 7 July 2016. Immediately, the mother informed family members. Violet and her daughter then went to the Haputale Police Station and made a complaint.

On the same day, 7 July 2016, in the evening, several hours after the complaint was made, two police officers visited the house of Violet and brought Meena, her father, & mother, to the Haputale Police Station. Within several minutes, police officers brought the alleged suspect, and one of the two men also to the Police Station. Meena identified the rapist and the other men who aided and abetted in the crime. In front of them, the suspects were put inside the police cell. Then Violet and her family came back home. But several hours later they learned that the police had sent the suspects home.

On the 8 July, Meena, her parents, and the brother went to the Police Station. The police recorded Meena’s statement. It was recorded in Sinhala even though Meena is not fluent in Sinhala. Statements of her parents were also recorded, and the police officers visited the crime scene, and Meena was admitted to the Diyatalawa Government Hospital on the same day at around 2 p.m. There the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) examined her. The JMO confirmed to Meena’s parents that she had been raped. On July 10, she was discharged. When she was discharged, the doctors confirmed that she was not pregnant.

Violet later questioned the police officers about how the alleged suspect Thushara had been released within several hours after he had been brought to the police. They told the parents that the suspect was produced before an Acting Magistrate and released on bail. Then Violet asked for the name of the Acting Magistrate and went to find out the truth. When all the family members went and inquired from the said Acting Magistrate, he said that such a suspect was not produced before him. Therefore, there is now serious suspicion that the suspect has not been produced before a Magistrate.

Violet has stated that Thushara belongs to a wealthy family and they are influential people in the area, and this is why the police have not implemented the law impartially, correctly, and efficiently. She further states that the police officers, due to the influence of the suspect, did not even record the statement of the suspect, and released him even without producing him before the Magistrate’s Court. Violet further states that she is the first witness and the virtual complaint about the crime happened to her daughter, and yet neither she nor any other family member has been made aware of any case lodged against the suspect.

The Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Haputale Police Station, on 12th July, said that the suspect was produced before a Magistrate, but he could not answer why the suspect was released. He told the victims that later he would inquire into the reason for his release and inform them. When the victims asked the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of the area about the incident, he also promised to investigate the same. But the victim states that still no authority has initiated an inquiry into the injustice.

Violet and her family members state that the police have not properly investigated the crime. Instead the police have acted to protect the suspect in what is a heinous crime under the criminal law of the country.

They state that police have failed to take the following measures, under the Criminal Procedure Code:

1. Police have not yet arrested the prime suspect, and the other suspects who were aiding and abetting the crime.

2. On 8th July 2016, the Woman Police Constable (WPC) who recorded the statement from the 14 year victim girl, had held a ‘cane’ in her hand and threatened Meena by showing it and warned her to tell the truth. The mother and other family members complained about this to the senior police officers and they did not investigate this.

3. Police still did not take steps to record the statements of the witnesses to the crime. The following are the most important witness statements all of which the police blatantly ignored to record;

a. The statements of the two suspects, who were aiding and abetting the crime,

b. The Priest and the assistance of the Roman Catholic Church, who held the mass which the victim attended,

c. The persons who were with the victim before she was subjected to the crime and the after the crime.

d. The statement of the Judicial Medical Officer and the Medical Officer who treated the victim after she was admitted to the Haputale Government Hospital.

4. Police still did not prepare the crime scene investigation report. The police needs to prepare sketches of the road map to the house and the place the crime took places following the statement of the virtual complainant. But none of these have yet been done nor followed.

5. Police have not taken into their charge the three-wheeler used to bring the victim to the scene of crime.

6. The police have not collected the JMO report and codified it as a part of the crime investigation. Nor have they submitted this report to the Magistrate to consider.

7. The police have not collected the facts regarding the age of the minor. They did not call even for the birth certificate of the victim. In turn, they did not submit it to the consideration of the Magistrate. The crime itself constitutes the ‘Crime Statutory Rape’, as the victim is still under the age of 16. But still the police have not yet brought the matter before a Magistrate.

8. The police have not yet taken the order from the court to examine the victim’s ‘State of Psychological Trauma’.

9. The police have not any step to collect any crime related productions as a part of crime investigation. They have intentionally delayed procedural steps to protect the influential suspect.

10. The police have not yet taken any steps to provide any protection to the victim or the family of the victim. The victim’s family members have informed the police that the alleged suspect has threatened to kill the parent of the victim. Until now, they have not yet informed the same to the court. No measures have been taken to provide protection to the victim and the witnesses.

Violet states that police have not properly investigating the crime and are protecting the alleged suspect; this is because they belong to the ethnic and religious minority. They further state that police have not taken any meaningful measures to provide protection to the victim or the witness, even though there is effective threat against whole family. They demand justice. They are asking for prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into the crime.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of not investigating the crime of rape by the police perpetrators, and demanding prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department.

The AHRC will also write a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Violent against Women and the Chairman of the UN Child Rights Committee in this regard.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Suspect in rape of 14-year-old girl released without proper investigation

Name of Victim: Daughter of Ms. Violet Rose of Thotugala Estate, Haputale, Badulla District, Uva Province.
Alleged perpetrators: Officers attached to the Haputale Police Station
Date of incident: 7 July 2016
Place of incident: Haputale Police Division

According to the information I have received, Ms. Violet Rose of Thotugala Estate, Haputale in Badulla District of Uva Province, is married and a mother of two children, a girl and a boy. She is a housewife, while his husband is a driver who owns a van that he offers on hire. Violet and her family are ethnic Tamils and ardent followers of the Roman Catholic region. They live within a small community in a tea estate that is surrounded, predominantly, by the majority Sinhalese people.

Violet’s daughter is a 14-year-old girl. Her daughter (herein referred to as ‘Meena’) is studying in the Tamil Central College, Haputale, and she is in grade 09. Violet’s son is working in a spice garden.

On the 19 June 2016, Meena was returning from the Roman Catholic Church at around 11 a.m. She traveled by bus about seven kilometers, and was walking home the last half kilometer, after getting down from the bus.

As Meena was walking home, a three-wheeler stopped and offered her a ride. Meena knew the two men who were seated behind and therefore she got into the three-wheeler. The two men who were seated behind were the bus driver and the conductor of a private bus in which she used to travel sometimes to school. Students call the bus driver Mr. Thushara (29).

To her surprise, Meena was not taken home but to the bus driver’s house. Meena objected and questioned them. She pleaded to them to take her home. But the three-wheeler driver and the bus conductor left Meena with the bus driver. The driver forcefully took Meena into the house. Meena learned that there was not no one in the house. She was frightened and yelled for help. She went into shock and panic.

Meena shouted and made several attempts to run away from the house, but failed. The alleged suspect Thushara then raped her. After this, she was threatened not to reveal what happened to anyone. If she revealed the incident, she was threatened that her parents would be killed. Then the suspect dropped Meena near her house at around 3 p.m. With difficulty she walked to her home. She was in fear.

Due to the fear that the suspect would harm her family, Meena kept the matter secret for few days but finally revealed it to her mother on the 7 July 2016. Immediately, the mother informed family members. Violet and her daughter then went to the Haputale Police Station and made a complaint.

On the same day, 7 July 2016, in the evening, several hours after the complaint was made, two police officers visited the house of Violet and brought Meena, her father, & mother, to the Haputale Police Station. Within several minutes, police officers brought the alleged suspect, and one of the two men also to the Police Station. Meena identified the rapist and the other men who aided and abetted in the crime. In front of them, the suspects were put inside the police cell. Then Violet and her family came back home. But several hours later they learned that the police had sent the suspects home.

On the 8 July, Meena, her parents, and the brother went to the Police Station. The police recorded Meena’s statement. It was recorded in Sinhala even though Meena is not fluent in Sinhala. Statements of her parents were also recorded, and the police officers visited the crime scene, and Meena was admitted to the Diyatalawa Government Hospital on the same day at around 2 p.m. There the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) examined her. The JMO confirmed to Meena’s parents that she had been raped. On July 10, she was discharged. When she was discharged, the doctors confirmed that she was not pregnant.

Violet later questioned the police officers about how the alleged suspect Thushara had been released within several hours after he had been brought to the police. They told the parents that the suspect was produced before an Acting Magistrate and released on bail. Then Violet asked for the name of the Acting Magistrate and went to find out the truth. When all the family members went and inquired from the said Acting Magistrate, he said that such a suspect was not produced before him. Therefore, there is now serious suspicion that the suspect has not been produced before a Magistrate.

Violet has stated that Thushara belongs to a wealthy family and they are influential people in the area, and this is why the police have not implemented the law impartially, correctly, and efficiently. She further states that the police officers, due to the influence of the suspect, did not even record the statement of the suspect, and released him even without producing him before the Magistrate’s Court. Violet further states that she is the first witness and the virtual complaint about the crime happened to her daughter, and yet neither she nor any other family member has been made aware of any case lodged against the suspect.

The Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Haputale Police Station, on 12th July, said that the suspect was produced before a Magistrate, but he could not answer why the suspect was released. He told the victims that later he would inquire into the reason for his release and inform them. When the victims asked the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of the area about the incident, he also promised to investigate the same. But the victim states that still no authority has initiated an inquiry into the injustice.

Violet and her family members state that the police have not properly investigated the crime. Instead the police have acted to protect the suspect in what is a heinous crime under the criminal law of the country.

They state that police have failed to take the following measures, under the Criminal Procedure Code:

1. Police have not yet arrested the prime suspect, and the other suspects who were aiding and abetting the crime.

2. On 8th July 2016, the Woman Police Constable (WPC) who recorded the statement from the 14 year victim girl, had held a ‘cane’ in her hand and threatened Meena by showing it and warned her to tell the truth. The mother and other family members complained about this to the senior police officers and they did not investigate this.

3. Police still did not take steps to record the statements of the witnesses to the crime. The following are the most important witness statements all of which the police blatantly ignored to record;

a. The statements of the two suspects, who were aiding and abetting the crime,

b. The Priest and the assistance of the Roman Catholic Church, who held the mass which the victim attended,

c. The persons who were with the victim before she was subjected to the crime and the after the crime.

d. The statement of the Judicial Medical Officer and the Medical Officer who treated the victim after she was admitted to the Haputale Government Hospital.

4. Police still did not prepare the crime scene investigation report. The police needs to prepare sketches of the road map to the house and the place the crime took places following the statement of the virtual complainant. But none of these have yet been done nor followed.

5. Police have not taken into their charge the three-wheeler used to bring the victim to the scene of crime.

6. The police have not collected the JMO report and codified it as a part of the crime investigation. Nor have they submitted this report to the Magistrate to consider.

7. The police have not collected the facts regarding the age of the minor. They did not call even for the birth certificate of the victim. In turn, they did not submit it to the consideration of the Magistrate. The crime itself constitutes the ‘Crime Statutory Rape’, as the victim is still under the age of 16. But still the police have not yet brought the matter before a Magistrate.

8. The police have not yet taken the order from the court to examine the victim’s ‘State of Psychological Trauma’.

9. The police have not any step to collect any crime related productions as a part of crime investigation. They have intentionally delayed procedural steps to protect the influential suspect.

10. The police have not yet taken any steps to provide any protection to the victim or the family of the victim. The victim’s family members have informed the police that the alleged suspect has threatened to kill the parent of the victim. Until now, they have not yet informed the same to the court. No measures have been taken to provide protection to the victim and the witnesses.

I therefore, request the intervention of your good offices to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of the crime of rape not being investigated by the police. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of department orders as issued by the police department.

Yours Sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Pujith Jayasundara
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: igp@police.lk

2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: ag@attorneygeneral.gov.lk

3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk or polcom@sltnet.lk

4. Secretary
Human Rights Commission
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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