Practice Relating to Rule 124. ICRC Access to Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
Sri Lanka’s Geneva Conventions Act (2006) includes the following provisions from the 1949 Geneva Convention IV:
Subject to the measures which the Detaining Powers may consider essential to ensure their security or to meet any other reasonable need, the representatives of religious organizations, relief societies, or any other organizations assisting the protected persons, shall receive from these Powers, for themselves or their duly accredited agents, all facilities for visiting the protected persons, for distributing relief supplies and material from any source, intended for educational, recreational or religious purposes, or for assisting them in organizing their leisure time within the places of internment. Such societies or organizations may be constituted in the territory of the Detaining Power, or in any other country, or they may have an international character.
The Detaining Power may limit the number of societies and organizations whose delegates are allowed to carry out their activities in its territory and under its supervision, on condition, however, that such limitation shall not hinder the supply of effective and adequate relief to all protected persons.
The special position of the International Committee of the Red Cross in this field shall be recognized and respected at all times.
Representatives or delegates of the Protecting Power shall have permission to go to all places where protected persons are, particularly to places of internment, detention and work.
They shall have access to all premises occupied by protected persons and shall be able to interview the latter without witnesses, personally or through an interpreter.
Such visits may not be prohibited except for reasons of imperative military necessity, and then only as an exceptional and temporary measure. Their duration and frequency shall not be restricted.
Such representatives and delegates shall have full liberty to select the places they wish to visit. The Detaining or Occupying Power, the Protecting Power and when occasion arises the Power of origin of the persons to be visited, may agree that compatriots of the internees shall be permitted to participate in the visits.
The delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross shall also enjoy the above prerogatives. The appointment of such delegates shall be submitted to the approval of the Power governing the territories where they will carry out their duties.
The Act also includes the following provision from the 1949 Geneva Convention III:
Representatives or delegates of the Protecting Powers shall have permission to go to all places where prisoners of war may be, particularly to places of internment, imprisonment and labour, and shall have access to all premises occupied by prisoners of war; they shall also be allowed to go to the places of departure, passage and arrival of prisoners who are being transferred. They shall be able to interview the prisoners, and in particular the prisoners representatives, without witnesses, either personally or through an interpreter.
Representatives and delegates of the Protecting Powers shall have full liberty to select the places they wish to visit. The duration and frequency of these visits shall not be restricted. Visits may not be prohibited except for reasons of imperative military necessity, and then only as an exceptional and temporary measure.
The Detaining Power and the Power on which the said prisoners of war depend may agree, if necessary, that compatriots of these prisoners of war be permitted to participate in the visits.
The delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross shall enjoy the same prerogatives. The appointment of such delegates shall be submitted to the approval of the Power detaining the prisoners of war to be visited.
In 2010, in its judgment in the Sivalingam case
, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka stated: “During his incarceration at the CID [Criminal Investigations Department] Headquarters, the Petitioner was visited by officers of the International Committee of the Red Cross … on two separate occasions.”
In 2009, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, Sri Lanka stated:
20. Under section 37 of the Criminal Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979 of Sri Lanka, a person arrested under … normal circumstances would be detained in … police custody for [a] maximum of 24 hrs.
21. Persons arrested under Emergency Regulations and Prevention of Terrorism Act, for certain offences could be detained up to [a] maximum of one year, for investigation and interrogation purposes …
22. However, the court closely monitors the investigation and other activities of the police in connection with persons arrested under any law. … Opportunities are … given to them [persons arrested] to meet independent monitoring bodies such as [the] ICRC to whom they could make their complaints, if any.
88. With regard to two specific cases raised by the Special Rapporteur, relating to the Prison at Bogambara and the Terrorist Investigation Division, the Special Rapporteur was informed that disciplinary action was being taken in the first case and that, in relation to conditions of detention in the second, that the Division was being moved to a new location. The ICRC has been consulted as to international standards relating to space, ventilation and light available to detainees.
In 2012, in its fifth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Sri Lanka stated:
During the time of conflict the ICRC was permitted to visit persons in detention pursuant to the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979 and the Emergency Regulations, in pursuance of the 1989 Agreement between the GoSL [Government of Sri Lanka] and the ICRC. The ICRC continues to visit those detained under the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] being held in the Boossa detention centre.