investigation are not yet known, although details of post-mortem examinations
of the bodies show that several of the victims had their hands and feet tied
and were thrown into the water alive. According to the doctor carrying out
post-mortems on eight of the bodies, all were males aged between 25 and 35.
The eight reportedly showed signs of starvation and two of strangulation; six
had been thrown in the water alive with their hands and feet tied together.
Numerous checkpoints have been established in Colombo and surrounding areas
since the resumption of hostilities. It is unlikely that any vehicle
transporting prisoners would have been able to get past these checkpoints unless
they were driven by authorized persons. The body of one young man was found
55 miles away from the place of his arrest.
In mid-June 1995, the government announced it would reinstate the powers of
the HRTF, an independent body set up by the previous government to monitor
and safeguard the welfare of detainees (see UA 103/95, ASA 37/07/95, 28 April
1995, and UA 139/95, ASA 37/13/95, 15 June 1995). At the same time, the President
issued directives to the heads of the security forces to safeguard the rights
of detainees, including the issuing of "arrest receipts" with the name and
rank of the arresting officer, the time and date of arrest and the place at
which the person will be detained. Amnesty International has welcomed these
measures and has urged that all necessary steps be taken to ensure strict
implementation. However, the organization has expressed concern about some
aspects of the new measures. For example, whereas current Emergency
Regulations (ERs) lay the onus of issuing such receipts on the arresting
authority, the presidential directives require them to be issued only "upon
request". Moreover, the ERs state that the HRTF should be notified of arrest
"forthwith, and in [any] case not later than forty-eight hours"; the directives,
however, state that the HRTF should be informed "as soon as possible and in
any case within four days of such arrest".
Amnesty International is concerned at continuing reports of arbitrary arrest
and "disappearance". It believes that the immediate issuing of "arrest receipts"
and prompt notification of the HRTF are essential first steps to preventing
further "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
To date, Amnesty International has asked the HRTF to investigate twelve reports
of "disappearance": five from Colombo, four from Trincomalee, three from
Batticaloa and one from Vavuniya. It is alleged that in none of these cases
was an "arrest receipt" issued.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- calling for a full, impartial investigation to establish the whereabouts
of Marsilin Michael Colin, Iyavu Shanmuganathan and Krishnapillai Thuruparan
and asking to be informed of the results;
- seeking assurances that, if in detention, they are being treated humanely
in accordance with international standards;
- expressing concern that "arrest receipts" are often not issued by the arresting
authorities; urging that every effort be made to ensure that these are issued
in all cases and that the HRTF is promptly informed, as important steps to
prevent further "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions in custody.
Her Excellency President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga