A felicitation ceremony was held on the 20th February 2016 to “Reward the courage" of the 02 survivors Jesudasan Rita, the rape victim & Rohitha Liyanage the Torture victim who fought more than a decade for Justice.
The Bishop of Kandy, bishop Vianney Fernando, Mr. Basil Fernando the Director - Policy and Programme of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) - Hong Kong, the lawyers, the members of the support group, priests, religious and the members of the civil society came to gather to the Kandian Arts Residency for this great occasion.
On behalf of the 02 survivors who fought for Justice in activating the legal system, the HRO offered its appreciation to the Bishops, priests the religious, the lawyers, the doctors and the members of the support group, the civil society members for their kind assistance given to both survivors in their journey towards Justice & Redress.
At the outset Fr. Nandana, the director of the HRO explained in details the courageous acts of the 02 survivors in "Breaking the Silence" that made it possible to convict the perpetrators and remembered all those who journeyed with them providing the victims, security & protection amidst of risk and challenges.
The ceremony included, speeches by bishop Vianney Fernando who recalled the day, when he was informed of the fateful incident of Rita from her parish priest and Bishop said that he was determined to seek justice for the school girl and requested Fr. Nandana to work on this and Bishop thanked Rita & Rohitha for their consistency and courage.
Mr. Basil Fernando in his speech lamented on the Sri Lankan society which has to take the ultimate responsibility of both incidents and said in a country where human dignity is respected, this type incidents should have never happened and that we should be shameful of the legal system that took 14 years to deliver justice, whereas they could have being concluded within an year or so. He further said in a society governed by the rule of Law, the citizen could freely move about whether they are young or old and nobody should worry about safety and security.
Legal reviews on both cases were made by the lawyers Mrs. Surangika Ranaweera, Mr. S. P. Padmadakshan, Mr. Titus Manatunga and appreciated the courage of both victims in spite of the defects of the Justice system that systematically discouraged the victims seeking Justice & Redress.
The two guests who were felicitated, Rita and Rohitha made their voices once again heard when they stood in front of the audience to thank the organizers and well-wishers. Rita enumerated her ambitious search of justice to punish the perpetrators and thanked all those rallied round her and empowered her during the past 14 years. She further said that such brutal acts should never happen to any school girls and destroy their future. In a broken voice, Rita remembered her late grand-father, Saverimuttu Anthonimuttu who stood by her and also thanked her husband who accepted her and continue to understand her.
Rohitha explained the Police brutality, when he was subjected to severe Torture and thanked all those who provided security & protection and Medical, Legal assistance for him to come back to life after being hospitalized almost for a year.
RITA (17) a school girl was abducted and raped on the 12th August 2001 while she was returning home after mass and Sunday's school at St Patrick's Church Talawakelle by Nalaka Piyal and Thuwan Rameez. One of the most shocking cases of the violation of the fundamental human rights of women took place in broad daylight in the town of Talawakelle in the Central Province of Sri Lanka on the 12th August 2001.
The case was heard by 09 High Court Judges while the prosecution was led by 10 State counsels and more than 20 lawyers of the Human Rights Office in Kandy appearing on the interest of the victim, the case was finally concluded on the 28th December 2015. The case was called 40 times in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya High Courts. Rita gave evidence in May 2011 as the first witness and was crossed examined for 03 days and she was called back once gain for re- cross examination in 2015 which lasted 02 days.
The judge ordered 05 years rigorous imprisonment and 3000 rupees fine for abduction, if default another 06 months of rigorous imprisonment. 18 years rigorous imprisonment for Rape and Rupees two hundred thousand each to be paid to Rita as compensation, in default 03 years of rigorous imprisonment .
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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