The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) raised concerns over several recent arrests of persons by Police Officers dressed in civilian attire without possessing any identification.
The BASL said the arrests and detentions were akin to abductions.
In a letter to IGP C.D. Wickramaratne, the BASL said it has received complaints from its members and the Colombo Magistrate’s Court Lawyers’ Association on such arrests.
It is alleged that persons so arrested have been taken away in unidentifiable vehicles and kept for several hours at undisclosed locations. On these occasions, no receipts of arrest have been issued nor an opportunity given to the persons arrested to inform relatives, friends, or lawyers of their whereabouts. On these occasions, they have been deprived of access to Attorneys-at-Law or the Human Rights Commission for a few hours, the BASL said.
“In one such instance, a suspect named Anthony Veranga Pushpika de Silva had been taken away by persons in civilian clothing, and his whereabouts were unknown for six hours. He was eventually found by Attorneys-at-Law to be in Police custody. In another instance, a suspect named Mangala Maddumage had been taken into custody by two persons in civilian clothing, and his whereabouts were known only a few hours later. In a third instance, a student studying at Kelaniya University had been abducted and questioned for nearly three hours before being released.”
Moreover, the BASL said it was also informed that on several occasions Attorneys-at-Law appearing for suspects were not properly informed or given misleading information on suspects in custody and on the time that they will be produced in Courts.
“These have resulted in them being deprived of legal representation and due process especially when they were produced at the residence of a Magistrate during late hours.”
“It is therefore of utmost importance that Police Officers carrying out arrests identify themselves at the time of arrest and afford persons so arrested an immediate opportunity to communicate with their relatives, friends, or their Attorneys-at-Law about their whereabouts. We request you (the IGP) to ensure that adequate access is given to Attorneys-at-Law and the relatives of such suspects without delay,” the BASL said.