The status of the five police officers arrested in August 1996 for alleged complicity in the abuses carried out in an unofficial government-run detention centre at the Batalanda Housing Estate [LKA31182.E]

President Chandrika Kumaratunge established a presidential commission to investigate allegations of disappearances, torture and murder that took place between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 1990 in an unofficial government detention centre at the Batalanda Housing Estate/Scheme (INFORM Jan. 1996, 8; Country Reports 1996 30 Jan. 1997). The Commission commenced sitting on 16 January 1996 (INFORM Jan. 1996, 8).

Country Reports 1996 stated that in August 1996 five police officers were arrested for "alleged complicity" in the abuses carried out in the Batalanda detention centre (30 Jan. 1997).

In September 1996 INFORM reported that the Defence Secretary revoked the detention orders of all 11 suspects arrested in relation to the inquiries of the Batalanda Commission following the filing of their fundamental rights petitions (INFORM Sept. 1996, 9). On 21 September 1998 the Supreme Court decided that the fundamental rights of the 11 police officers detained and arrested in connection with the Batalanda Commission proceedings had been violated (The Sunday Times 11 Oct. 1998).

At the end of October 1997 the Batalanda Commission officially concluded its hearings (INFORM Oct. 1997, 9).

O n 27 March 1998 the Batalanda Commission submitted its report to Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumarantunga (Sri Lanka Monitor Apr. 1998).

Two sources reported that in August 1998 five senior police officers, including a Deputy Inspector General (DIG), were sent on compulsory leave after the Batalanda Commission report implicated them in the torture and disappearance of a "large" number of youths in the late 1980s (HRW 1998, 209; Country Reports 1998 26 Feb. 1999, 1a). The Colombo weekly The Sunday Times stated that by 21 August 1998, 15 top police officers and a DIG had been sent on compulsory leave for their "alleged involvement in the Batalanda torture chamber and disappearances" (23 Aug. 1998).

On 17 August 1998 the Defence Secretary sent DIG Merril Gunaratne on compulsory leave in connection with the findings of the Batalanda Commission to "facilitate proper investigations and inquiries" relating to the Commission's findings (Daily News 28 Nov. 1998). At the end of November 1998, however, the Colombo daily newspaper Daily News reported that the Court of Appeal had "quashed" the order to send Gunaratne on compulsory leave, and prohibited the Defence Secretary from taking "further action" in terms of his compulsory leave (28 Nov. 1998). The Court of Appeal had determined that according to Section 55(3) of the Constitution, only the Public Service Commission could place Guneratne on compulsory leave after conducting its own inquiries (ibid.).

On 21 August 1998 the Defence Secretary sent three police officers, SPs, H.G. Wickramasinghe, W. Mahanayake and H. Chandrasa, on compulsory leave based on allegations made by witnesses who testified in the Batalanda Commission (Daily News 17 Sept. 1998). However, the three police officers stated that the Commission did not request them to testify nor did it request any explanations of the allegations made against them (ibid.). On 14 September 1998 the Supreme Court stayed the operation of compulsory leave letters sent to these three police officers (ibid.).

For additional information on the Batalanda Commission and its findings, please consult LKA31181.E of 26 February 1999 and LKA31183.E of 1 March 1999.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998. 26 February 1999.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1996. 30 January 1997.

Daily News [Colombo]. 28 November 1998. Kumar Wethasinghe. "Court of Appeal Quashes Compulsory Leave Order on DIG."

_____. 17 September 1998. Rodney Martinesz. "Compulsory Leave Notice on Opposition Leader's Security Officer Stayed."

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1998. Human Rights Watch World Report 1999. New York: HRW.

Sri Lanka Information Monitor (INFORM) [Colombo]. Situation Report. October 1997. "Follow Up on Commission Reports."

_____. September 1996. "Batalanda Commission."

_____.January 1996. "Batalanda Commission."

Sri Lanka Monitor [London]. April 1998. "Torture Chamber."

The Sunday Times [Colombo]. 11 October 1998. Kishali Pinto Jayawardena. "Batalanda Report: What Is Happening? A Recurring Tragi-Comedy."

_____. 23 August 1998. Chris Kamalendran. "Police Purge: Over 100 Heads Roll."

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report. Yearly, 1997, 1998.

Human Rights Watch World Report. Yearly. 1997, 1998.

Sri Lanka Information Monitor: Situation Report [Colombo]. Monthly. January 1996-April 1998, June-December 1998.

Sri Lanka Monitor [London]. Monthly. August-December 1998.

Electronic sources: Internet, IRB Databases, NEXIS.