Trinco 5 case : Amnesty International calls for legal reforms | Sunday Observer

Trinco 5 case : Amnesty International calls for legal reforms

Amnesty International has said that legal reforms will be required if renewed investigations into the Trinco 5 case are to be effective.

Releasing a statement this week, the organisation called on the Government to amend the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act of 2015 to further facilitate the participation of witnesses and victims outside of Sri Lanka in light of the legitimate security concerns.

“The Government of Sri Lanka should seek to amend the law beyond the facilitation of recording evidence or statements remotely from a Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in the country from where a victim of crime or witness seeks to testify or make the statement,” the release said.

While welcoming the decision of the Attorney General to recommence investigations into the killing of five Tamil students by Sri Lankan security forces in Trincomalee on 2 January 2006, Amnesty International noted that the Government of Sri Lanka has an obligation under international law to deliver justice to the victims of the killings either through the domestic court system, or through a judicial mechanism. The organisation also urged the Government to strengthen witness protection and mutual legal assistance from countries where witnesses and victims may now reside, to effectively investigate the killings and pursue accountability for the ‘Trinco 5’.

Amnesty International in its release noted the importance of a thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the killing to ensure that victims of human rights violations and abuses can access justice.

The Attorney General’s decision follows the acquittal of 13 Special Task Force (STF) suspects earlier this month, reportedly due to a “lack of evidence”. The CID was unable to obtain witness statements from key witnesses who are living abroad due to their apprehension to visit the Sri Lanka Diplomatic Mission to provide their testimonies.

A journalist who took photographs of the bodies, Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, was killed a few weeks after the incident. Dr K Manoharan, whose son Ragihar was one of the victims was forced to flee the country after receiving death threats and continues to voice fears of reprisals against those who give evidence in the case. The families of the other victims, including two youths who survived the attack, were also forced to flee the country.