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‘Your entire family will be destroyed’: Mother who complained against STF threatened

 

A mother in southern Sri Lanka has received death threats a day after she urged the country’s chief law official to probe an enforced disappearance believed to have been carried out by the Police Special Task Force (STF).

She had been warned of destroying ‘the entire family’.

The mother had filed a complaint with the Attorney General (AG) regarding the abduction of her son from the Horowpathana area and his disappearance for 25 days.

The Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) has vehemently condemned the death threats against Kapila Kumara’s mother. The organisation led the process of lodging a complaint with the AG, and this complaint was the first to be filed under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Act, No. 5 of 2018 that criminalised enforced disappearances.

Kuamara disappeared on 27 March, 2024, in the Horowpathana police area, in north central Sri Lanka, when he visited a store to buy a loaf of bread. His mother, Kumuduni Jayasekara, earlier revealed that a team of police STF members had handed over her son to the Pitigala Police Station, in the southern district of Galle, on the night of 21 April, 25 days after his abduction and disappearance.

“Even though several attempts were made to find out his whereabouts, his family had not received any information about the fate that befell him or the identities of those who had abducted him. This uncertainty and fear persisted until De Silva was unexpectedly found on 20 April, at the Pitigala Police Station in Galle in the Southern province,” the complaint lodged with the AG read.

The 20-page complaint to the AG further said that during the time Kumara was detained following the abduction, an armed group had tortured and attempted to kill him.

A torturer who answered a phone call was quoted as saying, ‘nobody knows he was taken, sir… let’s hit him on the spot.. nobody saw him being taken by us’.

Both the CPRP and Jayasekara continued to point the finger at the police STF as perpetrators.

With regard to this enforced disappearance, the CPRP lodged a complaint with the AG on 13 June under the abovementioned Act.

The CPRP said that at around 12.28 a.m. on 14 June (Friday), a day after the complaint was filed, Kumara’s mother had received a call, and the caller had threatened “We are not scared of a court case. Your entire family will be destroyed”.

A press release, issued by the CPRP on 15 June and signed by CPRP’s Executive Director attorney Senaka Perera and President Sudesh Nandimal, said that subsequently, she had filed a complaint with the Ahangama Police Station with regard to these threats. The complaint number is CIB 5 285/109.

The CPRP said that the phone number that had been used to threaten her was 0775379878.

The statement further said that even when Kuamra’s mother was at the Ahangama Police Station to lodge a complaint regarding the death threats she had received a call from the same number. When she answered the call, the caller had hung up.

Noting that this is the first complaint filed under the aforementioned Act, the CPRP said that the Convention had been passed at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and that Sri Lanka has also agreed to implement it.

The CPRP is of the opinion that allegations against Sri Lanka may be intensified by this type of unacceptable influence concerning a case that has attracted international attention.

“The international community has paid serious attention to Sri Lanka’s human rights-related developments due to the Sri Lanka Accountability Project (SLAP) initiated by the UNHRC. In such a context, if those who are responsible for these types of incidents are entitled to impunity, it could also result in Sri Lanka having to face a number of serious issues in future.”

Pointing out that these forms of threats are a shameful attempt to block access to justice, the CPRP reminds the government that the latter has a responsibility to protect witnesses and victims.

“The CPRP is of the view that, by intervening to enforce the law regarding this incident, the government should prove that every citizen has access to law and that everyone is equally entitled to the same.”

Moreover, through the press release, the CPRP requested the government to enforce the law against the death threats against Kumara’s mother.

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