Practice Relating to Rule 89. Violence to Life
Sri Lanka’s Emergency Regulations (2005), as amended to 2008, states:
25. (1) Any person who –
(b) causes or attempts to cause death or injury to any other person with fire or any combustible matter or any explosive or corrosive sub[s]tance or … [with] any missile, weapon or instrument of any description; …
Shall be guilty of an offence and, not withstanding anything in the Penal Code or in these regulations shall, on conviction thereof before the High Court, be liable to suffer death.
53. Where in the course of his duty a police officer or any member of the armed forces causes the death of any person, … notw[ith]standing the provisions of any other law, such police officer or member of the armed forces shall be handed over to the appropriate authority to be detained in police custody or military custody as the case may be.
54. Where a police officer or member of the armed forces has reason to believe that the death of any person may have been caused as a result of any action taken in the course of duty either by him or by any subordinate officer as the case may be, or where any person dies in police custody or military custody, the Superintendent of Police in charge of the division to which such police officer is attached or in the case of a member of the armed forces the Commanding Officer of the Unit to which he belongs, shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary to Chapter XXX [relating to inquests of deaths], and Section 9, of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979 [giving power to the Magistrates’ court to inquire into sudden deaths] or the provisions of any other written law for the time being in force, report the facts relating to such death to the Inspector-General of Police or the nearest Deputy Inspector-General of Police.
55. Upon receipt of the information under regulation 54, the Inspector-General of Police or the Deputy Inspector-General of Police as the case may be, shall –
(a) direct … [an] officer not below the rank of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, to proceed to the scene of the incident and –
(i) record his observations;
(ii) take charge of any probable productions; and
(iii) record the statements of any persons, who in his opinion, appear to be acquainted with the circumstances relating to such death; and
(b) in any case where the body is found forthwith report such fact to the Magistrate.
56. (1) The Magistrate shall, upon receipt of the report of the facts by the Inspector-General of Police, or the Deputy Inspector-General of Police as the case may be under regulation 55;
(a) direct a Government Medical Officer to forthwith hold a post-mortem examination of such body and may direct that the dead body if it has already been buried, be disinterred;
57. (1) The High Court … in Colombo shall notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any written law have exclusive jurisdiction to inquire into the death of any person in any part of the island or within its territorial water, caused or purported to have [been] caused in the circumstances specified in regulation 54.
(2) The Judge of the High Court … in Colombo shall upon application being made to such Court by the Inspector-General of Police hold an inquiry into the cause of death of the person named as deceased in such application.
(9) At the conclusion of the inquiry the Judge of the High Court shall transmit the record of evidence and a report of the circumstances under which the death was caused together with any other documents to the Attorney-General.
58. Upon receipt of the record of evidence and other documents transmitted to him under paragraph (9) of regulation 57, it shall be lawful for the Attorney-General –
(a) to call for any further material or information as he may require;
(b) if he is satisfied that the commission of any … [offence] has been disclosed –
(i) direct the institution of proceedings under Chapter XIV [commencement of proceedings before the Magistrates’ Court] or XV of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act [offences to be tried by the High Court], No. 15 of 1979; or
(ii) proceed under the provision of sub-section (7) of section 393 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979 [empowering the Attorney-General to forward an indictment directly to, or transfer it from the Magistrates’ Court to, the High Court].
Sri Lanka’s Geneva Conventions Act (2006) includes the grave breach of “wilful killing” as an indictable offence.
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Sri Lanka stated:
83. In accordance with resolution 1612 and Section VI, paragraph 2 of the Terms of Reference of the Working Group on the Security Council on children and armed conflict, the TFMR [Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting] will focus on violations against children affected by armed conflict …
84. … [V]iolations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict including … killing … of children … will … be addressed.
In 2011, in its Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis July 2006–May 2009, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence stated:
A. Overview of the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]
20. The LTTE’s operational concept on land was twofold. First, it aimed to infiltrate civilian areas and conduct atrocities including mass killings in vulnerable villages …
B. LTTE Atrocities against Civilians
29. In addition to its assassination of political figures throughout Sri Lanka, the LTTE killed government officials, public servants, members of the judiciary and other individuals in its efforts to undermine law and order in Sri Lanka. This included 364 policemen in the East of Sri Lanka, who were killed after surrendering on orders and being guaranteed safety by the LTTE during peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka in June 1990.
The Ministry of Defence further stated:“[T]he LTTE … attack[ed] two army camps and murder[ed] eight soldiers in their captivity and killing 23 civilians.”
The Ministry of Defence also stated:
VI. The Wanni Operation
162. While the Humanitarian Operation in the East was reaching its climax, it was decided to open a frontage in the Wanni theatre. …
182. The LTTE, upon realising that their ability to control the civilians in larger expanses of territory was limited, kept forcefully moving the civilians to smaller and smaller extents of land until they reached Putumattalan. This was a narrow stretch of land bounded by the sea and a lagoon, which formed natural obstacles to civilians escaping in addition to the LTTE’s hostile actions to keep them trapped. In a well documented incident, the LTTE started shooting at many thousands of civilians amassed on the border of the lagoon, attempting to cross over to the safety of government controlled areas. This compelled Security Forces to expeditiously launch a hostage rescue mission.
VII. The Civilian Rescue Operation
184. The Humanitarian Operation that commenced in Mavil Aru, converted itself to a civilian rescue mission in the last phases of the war as the civilians were forcibly held against their will by the LTTE, in the areas of Putumattalan, Karayamullivaikkal and Vellamullivaikkal, where geographical location (between the lagoon and the sea) made it difficult to create safe passages for the civilians to cross over to the liberated areas.
187. … During this period, there was a considerable increase in the atrocities committed by the LTTE against the incarcerated civilian population, i.e., shooting those attempting to leave the control of the LTTE[.]
The Ministry of Defence further stated: “On 18 May 2009, Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE, bringing to an end three decades of conflict and suffering.”