Collusion, apathy said skewing medical legal reports

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 February 2001, 22:02 GMT]
"There is inordinate delay in getting medical reports on rape and torture from the Batticaloa hospital" said Suganthi Kandasamy, state counsel, addressing a seminar on Community awareness and aspects of the law Sunday in the eastern town. She noted that it is very difficult to prosecute cases involving torture and rape in Batticaloa because medical legal reports are either not available or in some important cases, even the preliminary examination of the victim is not done by medical officers assigned for the purpose at the Batticaloa hospital.

The observations of Ms.Kandasamy come in the wake of a strong reprimand by the Vavuniya district judge, Manickavasagar Ilencheliyan in court last year of medical officers in that northern border town who, according to him, had acted in bad faith by reporting that nothing was wrong with persons bearing clear marks of physical torture that were shown in open court.

Ms. Kandasamy cited a case in which a woman in the village of Kaluwanchikudi, about 24 kilometers south of Batticaloa, who was raped by a person from the Sri Lankan security forces. She said that the woman had not even been examined at the Batticaloa hospital, despite the passage of several months since the date of the rape.

According to Ms. Kandasamy, even direct intervention by judges who gave directions that the medical legal reports be produced forthwith in cases involving rape and murdered yielded no results.

During the discussion that followed the Batticaloa state counsel's presentation, Mr.Aiyathurai Nadesan, the local correspondent for the Virakesari, the Tamil daily newspaper published from Colombo and numerous foreign Tamil media, corroborated Ms.Kandasamy's observations by drawing attention to the fact that the Sri Lankan government hasn't so far appointed a single Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) in the north and east, despite the fact that most of the extra-judicial killings, torture and rape in this region were allegedly or quite plainly were perpetrated by the SLA.

The patent apathy and corruption on the part of some medical officers in the north and east who certify that nothing is wrong with victims who have obviously been tortured, raped, maimed, and, or traumatised, exacerbates the situation, Ms. Kandasamy said.

Another person in the audience charged that some medical officers in Batticaloa, Vavuniya and Mannar were patently colluding with the Sri Lankan army to give it a clean sheet in cases involving unequivocal evidence of torture, rape and severe sexual harassment.

Ms.Kandasamy said that the sheer apathy of village officers (Grama Sevakas) in serving summons to the affected parties in rape and torture cases, regardless of the unique circumstances, is another key factor balking reasonable redress to the victims.

According to her, the Batticaloa judge has served an arrest warrant on a village officer for his incorrigible negligence.

Ms.Mangaleswari Manikkapodi, legal advisor to the Suriya women's movement who organised the seminar addressing the audience at the Hamsa Hotel in Batticaloa town Sunday.Photo:TamilNet


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