Pathmini Peiris v. Sri Lanka
Mr Fernando lodged complaints of torture and bribery against several police officers. He was subsequently subjected to constant threats of assassination. Two lawyers involved with the case have also been threatened. On 20 September 2008, a few days before Mr Fernando was due to give evidence against the alleged perpetrators of torture, he was shot and killed. A death inquest was held at the Magistrate Court of Negombo. The wife of the deceased and two children gave evidence, mentioning the names of 14 police officers who they believed to be implicated in the death of her husband. Mrs. Fernando and her family repeatedly reported threats by police officers for pursuing complaints relating to the bribery, torture and killing of Mr. Fernando and criminal charges were brought against her in response to her complaints.
The Asian Legal Resource Centre, together with REDRESS and the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (Denmark), submitted a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee in February 2009 on behalf of Mr Fernando's wife, Mrs Annakkarage Suranjini Sadamali Pathmini Peiris, alleging violations of articles 6, 7 and 9 in conjunction with article 2 (3). The complaint also requested interim measures to ensure the protection of the complainant and her family, following which the Human Rights Committee issued a letter to the Sri Lankan government on 12th February 2009, requesting the state party to take measures to ensure protection of Mrs. Pathmini Peiris and her family.
In August 2011, an additional submission was lodged with the Human Rights Committee on behalf of Mrs Pathimini Peiris in which her counsel argued that failure of Sri Lanka to comply with the protection measures requested by the Committee constituted separate violation of her rights.
On 26 October 2011 the Human Rights Committee issued its views in the case, finding that the murder of Mr Fernando was attributable to the state of Sri Lanka, and that it was therefore in violation of Article 6 of the Covenant (right to life). The Committee also found that Mr Fernando and his wife and children had been subjected to ill-treatment contrary to Article 7 of the Covenant. Sri Lanka was held in breach of its obligations under the Convention to properly investigate and take appropriate action regarding the death Mr Fernando, and the ill-treatment suffered by him and his family. For its failure to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect Mrs Pathmini Peiris and her children following death threats made by police officers, Sri Lanka was also held in violation of Article 9(1) (right to security of the person) and Article 17 (right to protection from arbitrary interference with privacy and family).
The Committee stated that Sri Lanka is under an obligation to provide Mrs Pathmini Peiris with an effective remedy, including ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice, that Mrs Pathmini Peiris and her children can return to their home in safety, and to ensure reparation, including payment of adequate compensation and an apology to the family.
- Communication before the Human Rights Committee: http://www.article2.org/mainfile.php/0801/338/
- Submission to the Human Rights Committee dated 22 August 2011
- Views of the Human Rights Committee adopted 26 October 2011