Velauthapillai Renukaruban v Sri Lanka
In 2016, while visiting Sri Lanka to get married, Renu was abducted, detained and tortured by Sri Lankan officials. He faced fabricated charges, an unfair trial and he was kept in prison under inhumane conditions.
Renu was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in 1981. As an ethnic Tamil, he fled Sri Lanka in 2001 during the civil war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He came to the UK and was granted asylum, and he later obtained British citizenship.
In June 2016, Renu returned to Sri Lanka to visit his elderly mother and to get married. Within 24 hours of arriving, Renu was abducted from his mother’s home and taken to a secret facility nearby. He was severely beaten and interrogated about his alleged ties to the LTTE, which he denied. When Renu refused to confess, the officials threatened to kill him.
He was taken to a police station and the next day, before a magistrate, he was charged with fabricated offences. In the five-minute hearing which followed, Renu was given no chance to defend himself or to be legally represented. The judge ordered his detention and Renu was taken to Jaffna prison.
On his third day in prison, four officials dragged Renu from his sleep and beat him until he lost consciousness. The attack left him with severe injuries. He was eventually taken to Jaffna Hospital, after an intervention from the British High Commission. During his seven day long stay in hospital, he was watched by a guard and handcuffed to his bed at all times.
With the help of a lawyer hired by his family, Renu was able to obtain bail. His case was dismissed after the police failed to present any evidence.
In July 2016, Renu returned to the UK. He continues to suffer from mental and physical injuries as a result of the torture he endured. He has been diagnosed with a brain injury and PTSD, and is unable to work.
Renu is seeking reparation for the harm he suffered at the hands of the Sri Lankan government.
ACTION FOR JUSTICE
Renu has tried to seek justice in Sri Lanka, but to no avail. The Sri Lankan police have failed to investigate his claim of torture. The Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission continues to fail to provide Renu with any update. There is little hope of his achieving justice in Sri Lanka.
On 11 June 2020, REDRESS, on behalf of Renu, filed a case before the Human Rights Committee (HRC) for violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Renu and REDRESS have argued that he suffered torture as a result of the severe pain and suffering inflicted on him, the inhumane conditions of detention and denial of medical treatment which constitute a violation of ICCPR Article 7. The Sri Lankan government is not only responsible for that torture, through its officials, but also failed to prevent the torture, to conduct an effective investigation, and to provide an effective remedy.
Further violations are claimed of Articles 9(1) (right to liberty and security), 14 (right to fair trial) and 2(3) (right to an effective remedy). Moreover, it is argued that Sri Lanka targeted and arrested Renu based on his ethnicity and thus also violated Article 26 (discrimination).
Renu is seeking compensation and rehabilitation from the harm he has suffered. He is also asking for an effective investigation into those responsible and the adoption of safeguards to prevent violations like this from happening again.
The case was filed with the UN Human Rights Committee on 11 June 2020, whose decision is currently pending.
Case name: Velauthupillai Renukaruban v Sri Lanka
Court/Body: UN Human Rights Committee
Date filed: 11 June 2020
Current status: Case pending
Legal representation: REDRESS