“Justice Delay is Injustice” was the theme of the International day in support of the Torture Survivors held in Kandyan Arts Residency Kandy on the 29th June 2019 organized by the Human Right Office, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Torture is one of the most brutal human rights violations that routinely take place in police stations in Sri Lanka. Due to the court delay Torture victims further suffer and hence victims prefer to go silent without seeking Justice. Female Torture victims rarely speak about Torture they suffer, however H. M. Podikumarihami, in spite of threats by the OIC of Mahiyanganaya Police, continues with her struggle for Justice. Hence in 2019 once again she made he voice heard and presented the second chapter, the atrocities committed by the Mahiyanganaya Police since “2018 Torture day” during which she initially opened up, her Torture story to the public. The worst threats have come with the declaration of emergency regulations after the 4/21 attack. Podikumarihami was threatened by the OIC to the extent that she would be detained without bail with fabricated charges of possessing explosives, if she does not withdraw the Fundamental Rights case filed in the Supreme Court.
Along with Podikumarihami, a child victim Dhanushka and Anurasiri Vithanarachchi who were brutally tortured by police officers also made their story pubic
Introducing the day, Fr. Nandana Manatunga, the director of the Human Rights Office said that the police officers make use of the emergency regulations to act with their free will and Torture suspects and the civil society who are more concerned of the terrorist threats do not take the issue of Police Torture. Further he said the focus is now shifted to upcoming elections and the Rule of Law is at stake
Podikumarihami unfolded the new chapter in a form of an interview led by the Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga the director of Human Rights Office, Kandy and Attorney at Law, Mr. Suren D. Perera. The brutal torture of Dhanushka (13), a student of year 08 by Galaha Police was narrated by Ms. Nelum Weerasinghe, and Mr. Supun Dissanayaka. This was followed by the story of Anurasiri Vithanarachchi, 44 years old lorry driver who was inhumanly tortured by Thalathuoya Police, while the audience and the panel of jurists listened attentively.
The panel comprised of Mr. Lal Wijenayake the eminent Constitutional Lawyer, Ms. Visaka Dharmadasa the founder and chair of the Association of War Affected Women (AWAW) and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action, Ms. Kumuduni Vithana the coordinator of Kandy Regional Office of Human Rights Commission, Ms. Sarah Arumugam a Human Right Lawyer and Mr. Vasantha Premaratne the Coordinator ICES Kandy.
The panelist admired the courage of Podikumarihami and appreciated Ms. Nelum Wirasinghe and Mr. Supun Dissanayaka for assisting and accompanying the child victim and voicing on behalf of him. Mr. Lal Wijenayake said that it is unfortunate that torture still continue in police stations and expressed his disappointment regarding the criticism made by of the president and the opposition parliamentarians on the 19th amendment which actually made several institutions independent including the Judiciary.
Sarah Arumugam while speaking about police torture on the poor and the powerless called the audience to campaign against the death penalty. Further, the panelists critically pointed out the causes for police Torture: Inefficiency of the Institutions, Breakdown of the Rule of Law, Delay in the Justice system (court delay). The panelist called for immediate police reforms. Panelist also emphasized the need for Judicial reforms to activate the Justice System to deliver Justice without delay.
After listened to the tragic and unending torture story of Podikumarihami, the participants of the International day in support of the survivors of Torture decided to sign a petition requesting both Inspector General of Police and the chairman of the Police Commission to take immediate disciplinary actions against the OIC of Mahiyanganaya Police and transfer him from Mahiyanganaya. Concluding the International Day in support of the torture victims, the Human Right Office, Kandy formally released the media statement.