SRI LANKA: RAPE IN CUSTODY ON THE INCREASE

The report 'Sri Lanka: Rape in custody' gives evidence of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights being blindfolded, beaten, forcibly stripped and raped. Amnesty International is calling upon the country's new government to take action.

'The new government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe must do everything in its power to prevent this grave sexual abuse of detainees,' Amnesty International said.

The organisation believes that complaints of rape, like other complaints of torture, are often not effectively dealt with by police, magistrates or doctors. Allegations are seldom investigated and the perpetrators rarely prosecuted because of serious deficiencies in the early stages of the criminal investigation process.

'Ensuring justice for the countless Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who have been victims of rape in custody is an opportunity for the new Prime Minister to redeem his party's election pledge to 'safeguard Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights',' continued Amnesty International.

The organisation is urging the new Prime Minister to:

· send a clear public message to all security forces personnel that committing rape and other serious sexual violence in custody will not be tolerated and that perpetrators of such offences will be brought to justice and held accountable;

· establish an independent investigative body with the necessary powers and expertise to open criminal investigations when human rights violations, including rape, are believed to have been committed.

Amnesty International welcomes the fact that crimes of rape in custody and gang rape are now punishable by a minimum of 10 years imprisonment under the Sri Lankan Penal Code. However, despite this recent development not one single member of the security forces has been found guilty of rape in custody in a court of law. In one case only - where the victim was murdered - were the culprits brought to justice.

Selected case study

In March 2001, Sinnathamby Sivamany (24) and Ehamparam Wijikala (22), two Tamil Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, were arrested by members of the navy in the coastal city of Mannar and taken to the office of a special police unit. There, Ehamparam Wijikala was taken inside the police station and brutally raped by two officers. In the meantime, a navy officer climbed into the van and blindfolded Sinnathamby with a sock, aided by the driver of the van. The officer then forcibly undressed and raped her. Some time afterwards she was taken inside the office to the room in which Ehamparam Wijikala was being held. The security forces personnel beat her, then demanded she remove her clothes. When she refused, Rajah, a male police officer ordered Ehamparam Wijikala to remove Sinnathamby's clothes. Both Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were made to parade naked in front of the men. They were then made to sit in a crouched position; their hands and legs were tied and attached to a pole which was then placed between two tables so they were left hanging. They were in this position for about 90 minutes and were pinched and beaten with a thick wire during that time.

Read the report: Sri Lanka: Rape in custody

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