Sri Lanka: Precedence based on the acquittal of author Shakthika Sathkumara by courts – to prevent arbitrary arrests by police.12 Feb, 2021
The Free Media expresses its appreciation to the judiciary for the acquittal and release of Shakthika Sathkumara, the creative writer arrested indiscriminately under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act.
We urge the Inspector General of Police to consider this situation and the final verdict given as an example and a precedent to clearly instruct the police to refrain from arbitrarily arresting creative writers, and authors who publish their versions of creative content and designs on social media and other forms of media as an alternative voice.
Shakthika Sathkumara was arrested by the Polgahawela Police on April 01, 2019.
He was only able to obtain bail on August 8, 2019. He had to be in remand for 130 days due to the indiscriminate actions and negligence of the due process by the Polgahawela Police.
He had to forego his work and was unemployed for ten months. Shakthika Sathkumara was acquitted and released on February 09, 2021, after the Attorney General informed the Polgahawela Magistrate’s Court that there was no cause to proceed with the case.
He has been subjected to terrible injustice because the police acted arbitrarily in connection with a random complaint received against a short story posted on his Facebook page.
The Free Media Movement issuing a statement at the time of the arrest of Satthika Sathkumara highlighted the continued violations of the right to freedom of expression of authors in the field of art and literature as well as free thinkers when a complaint is received against them or their creations.
This same indiscriminate abusive process continues in practice even to this day.
If an inconsiderate or careless post is published on social media, such a matter can be resolved by admonishing them if they are prepared to extend an apology for their actions.
There also may be instances where action can be initiated under the common law of the country.
In such situations, it is important to instruct the police to comply with the legal analysis and accompanying recommendations to the contents of Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights No. 56 of 2007 issued by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to the IGP in August 2019.
The Free Media Movement kindly requests you, the Inspector General of Police, to conduct a review of the detainees already arrested under this Act, based on the above guidelines and to direct the police to act with greater discernment as astute judgment before making any future arrests.