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TONY FERNANDO: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST STARTS ANOTHER COURT BATTLE

S.S.Selvanayagam, 'Daily Mirror', 29 April 2003

The Supreme Court yesterday granted leave to proceed with the fundamental rights petition filed by a human rights activists who had earlier been jailed for contempt of the Supreme Courts and later claimed he was tortured by jail guards.

The petitioner Anthony Michael Emmanuel Fernando in the latest case is claiming a compensation of Rs. one million for the alleged assault by the jail guards.

Over the past few months the case has hit national headlines and also led to a prison's strike after some guards were interdicted.

Yesterday's order was given by a Bench comprising Justices Shirani A. Bandaranayake, Asoka de Silva and Nihal Jayasinghe.

The case will be taken up on June 9.

President's Counsel Desmond Fernando with K.S.Ratnavale and Kamini Dissanayake appeared for the petitioner. State Counsel K.T.P.Ranasinghe appeared for the Attorney General.

Attorney Suranjith R.K.Hewamanne had filed this petition on behalf of Emmanuel Fernando citing Jail Guards Gayan Chrishantha and W.A.Priyashantha of Welikada Prisons as well as the Superintendent of Welikada Prisons, Commissioner General of Prisons, Interior Ministry Secretary and the Attorney General as respondents.

Mr. Fernando 46 had earlier this year been sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court when he personally took up a case he had filed and had spoken to the judges in a manner that was seen as contemptuous.

The petitioner claimed that on being taken to Welikada Prisons after he was jailed by the Supreme Court for contempt he developed a serious asthmatic condition and was taken to the prison hospital. As his condition was unsatisfactory, he was taken to the Colombo National Hospital and he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

Mr. Fernando said that on February 8, he was transferred to Ward No. 44. He was not given a bed and was made to sleep on the floor with his leg chained as required by the prison authorities. About 4 pm on February 10, he was taken on a stretcher to be put into a prison bus but the stretcher could not be taken inside the bus. The stretcher was placed on the ground with him lying on it in pain.

Mr. Fernando said one of the prison guards alighted from the bus, shook him by the shoulder and dragged him into the bus. Screaming in pain, he called for his father who was on the spot.

He was then dropped on the floor of the bus where he lay flat. Thereafter he was kicked on his stomach, the back and spine and he was writhing in pain.

Mr. Fernando said he was assaulted on the face and on the body by the prison guards seated inside the bus.
On arrival at the prison, Mr. Fernando said he was dragged out of the bus and taken on a stretcher to the prison hospital and kept near the toilet where he remained until the next morning. Thereafter he was examined by a doctor and was given a bed without a mattress.

Mr. Fernando said that on February 16 he was transferred to the Colombo National Hospital for further treatment. On March 7, he was taken to the Colombo Magistrates Court to take part in an identification parade against his will in an ambulance on a stretcher in spite of his protesting that he was not physically fit to take part in such an exercise.

On objections being raised by his counsel, the identification parade was put off.

The petitioner also said that when the hospital chaplain Rev. Fr. Ashok came to give him Holy Communion on March 7, the prison guards had prevented the priest from doing so.

Posted on 2003-04-29
 
Asian Human Rights Commission
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