Human Rights

Tamil gang rape victims denied justice for 14 years

Sri Lanka has failed to prosecute twelve security force personnel for the gang rape of two Tamil mothers fourteen years ago despite the group being identified by the victim, says a collective of women's groups from the North and the East.

The mothers have come forward to identify three police officers and nine navy personnel as the gang rapists who committed the crime on 19 March 2001 in north western Mannar, even at the risk of being killed, says the Women’s Action Network (WAN).

“It is not easy for ethnic minority women to stand up against armed men and demand justice,” says WAN.

However, the case has been put on hold for over seven years.

WAN says that the case had been taken up at the high court in Sinhala dominated north central Anuradhapura town, during the latter part of 2006.

State intervention

The government has intervened to stop the twelve security forces men being tried for rape.

The attorney general’s department had ‘decided it would be counterproductive to take up the rape case, and amalgamated the two cases into one and tried it as a torture case,’ says the WAN statement.

In 2008 the case hearing was stopped on a stay order by the Court of Appeal as one of the victim went missing.

The other woman had been forced to flee the country due to threats to her safety.

WAN has brought this case to light following a judge in northern Jaffna sentencing four Sinhala military men for the gang rape and sexual abuse of two Tamil women in Visuwamadu.

International crimes

Both victims have identified Corporal Danushka Priyalal Ratnayake, Pathinaratne Bandaranayeke Priyantha Kumara, Pandithagethera Shantha Subasinghe and Delgolelage Dunushka Pushpakumara from the army’s 572 brigade.

One soldier has escaped while being released on bail in 19 November 2010 and police have failed to produce him in court.

Delivering the 81 page judgement on 6 October 2015, High Court Judge Manikkawasagar Ilanchelian said that the rape and sexual abuse by soldiers amounted to ‘international crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity,’ under UN and international laws.

Sri Lanka does not have laws to act on international crimes.

© JDS