Tangalle Rape Suspects Get Stringent Bail Conditions
By Niranjala Ariyawansha
The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) says that the suspects in the rape of an under-aged girl in Tangalle were given very stringent bail conditions. This was ordered by the Magistrate of Tangalle Justice Uresha de Silva on August 18. The bail conditions included Rs. 25,000 cash bail and two sureties for Rs. 1 million each. The suspects were asked to surrender their passports to court whilst those not in possession of passports were ordered not to obtain one. They were also ordered to report each Sunday at the office of the Asst. Superintendent of Police, Tangalle.
Nilupul Jayawickreme the owner of Namal Restaurant and Guest House where the offence was committed was not given bail. He was further remanded. A total of 22 people were taken into custody and remanded for the offence. One person is still absconding and the second charge against Nilupul Jayawickreme is for misleading the Court with regard to this suspect. Nilupul Jayawickreme’s 18 year old son Isuru is also a suspect in this case. Nilupul had produced his younger son who is 14 years of age and had misled the Court by saying that he had only one son.
A senior officer of the NCPA confirmed that investigations into this case were almost complete and as such the lawyers appearing for the suspects were able to obtain bail. Inspector Bopitiya of the NCPA is investigating further and will also further charge Nilupul Jayawickreme for cruelty for substituting the younger son in court instead of his 18 year old elder son.
The victim is being rehabilitated at a children’s home under the care of the NCPA and is making progress. On completion of her treatment and rehabilitation she will be entered to a school to finish her education.
A former Chairman of the NCPA Prof. Harendra de Silva said, “The cases are heard in some order. Since interest will wane cases go down. Officials are not that interested. Even peons can do this. Officials in the Attorney General’s Office are not interested. We are unable to comment on ongoing cases. We will then be breaking the law. This a problem for the officials who are administering the law. Their conduct is not that efficient. They want to satisfy the government. The law has loopholes too. The suspects get bail because of this. There is also the problem of suspended sentences for rape”.
Prof. de Silva added that some cases were withdrawn by the AG’s Office and due to the delays in the legal process society too does not remember them in the long term.
Kalyananda Thiranagama, Director, Lawyers for Human Rights said that the legal delays in prosecuting rape cases allows the suspects to believe that it is not a grave crime. He felt that this should be a non bailable offence and that suspended sentences too should not be given if the suspects are found guilty.
Meanwhile the Chairman of the Akuressa Pradeshiya Sabha, Saruwaliyanage Sunil and the other suspects in the case where a 14 year old girl was raped are yet in remand.