Mr. Eran Wickramaratne, a member of parliament called for elimination of widespread practice of torture in Sri Lanka as in many other countries of the region in an interview to a radio program.
He hoped that all members of Sri Lankan parliament regardless of their political affiliations will come together to support this effort. He was speaking to Nilantha Ilangamuwa for the weekly radio broadcast on Human Rights sponsored by the Asian Human Rights Commission.
He said that although there is a law prohibiting the use of torture in Sri Lanka which was promulgated eighteen years ago, still it has not been properly implemented. There is quite credible documentation about widespread torture in Sri Lanka. The torture victims themselves have spoken out about their situations and there are many youtube clips of Sri Lankan torture victims talking about their own experiences. There are also well documented cases done by Human rights organizations which all show the prevalence of practice of torture. Proper implementation of this law requires the allocation of funds for police reforms.
Citing the example of Hong Kong where he attended the meeting of the Asian Alliance Against Torture and Ill-Treatment (AAATI) held from 21 to 25 July, 2012, he said that the institutions like the police and the judiciary are functioning quite well in Hong Kong. No one interferes with the functioning of these institutions and they have the required independence. The executive does not interfere with the functioning of this institution by way of politicization. Independence of institutions is very essential for ensuring the enforcement of law.
He also said that the practice of torture was thoroughly condemned by all the members of parliaments who attended the AAATI meeting. They all agreed on the urgent need for reforms to be brought about in order to eliminate torture and ill treatment and to improve the policing.
He further said that all suspects are presumed innocent and there is no basis to torture or ill treat them. As per prisons, bad conditions of the prisons contribute to people sent there to become criminals. Funds should be made available for creating better prison conditions so that rehabilitation of prisoners becomes possible. He said that the members of parliament have an obligation to take a serious interest in elimination of torture and ill treatment and also to achieve improvement of public institutions.