Woman Unlawfully Arrested, Detained And Degraded By Police
According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) police officers at the Kochchikade Police Station arrested and detained a woman without a cause or complaint, only releasing her due to pressure from her friends. While in custody she was subjected to an unnecessary, aggressive strip search, verbally abused and threatened. Although she has made official complaints no investigations into the misconduct have been started.
On August 22 two police officers entered and searched the home of Ms Galoluge Olivia Quincy Fernando (53) without a search warrant, before taking her to the Kochchikade Police Station where she was detained. No reason was given for her arrest.
At the police station, Olivia reports being aggressively questioned over a three hour period by two police officers who threatened to beat her with a baton, and abused using obscene language. She was then taken to another room and forcibly stripped naked and further humiliated by two female officers. She was reportedly told to lift her breasts with her hands, her petticoat was pulled off and she was threatened with a beating.
Olivia was allowed to leave at 6 p.m when friends challenged her detention, but she was told to return the following morning, which she did. After being unlawfully detained for a further two hours, pressure from Olivia’s friends again secured her release, but she was still told to return the next day. She did so, and when she asked about the charges against her, she found that there were none.
At no time was a reason given for Olivia’s arrest and questioning and at no point was she told of any complaints or charges against her, as required by the Sri Lankan Constitution and police code. Olivia also reports that no written statement was taken and that she was not asked to sign any legal document; no case was later filed by police at the Magistrate’s Court to suggest that a crime had been committed.
Olivia has complained about her treatment to the Senior Superintendent of Police, the Kochchikade Police Station and the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission.