Tamil Youth Dies in Custody Amid Allegations of Police Torture; Family Points to Human Rights Commission Inaction

In a tragic incident that has raised serious concerns about police conduct and human rights in Sri Lanka, a 26-year-old Tamil youth, Nagarasa Alex, was found dead in police custody on Sunday, November 19. Alex, hailing from the war-affected north of Sri Lanka, had been arrested by the police in Vaddukoddai on November 8 on charges related to burglary.

The family of the deceased alleges that Alex was subjected to severe torture during his time in custody, and they believe that timely intervention by the country’s Human Rights Commission could have saved his life. Alex was remanded by the Mallakkam magistrate court two days after his arrest and was discovered lifeless when brought to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Uruthirapasupathy Mayorathan, Consultant Forensic Pathologist and Judicial Medical Officer at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital, conducted the postmortem examination. In his report, Dr. Mayorathan stated, “There were multiple injuries (abrasions and contusions) noted in the back of the trunk, both upper limbs, and both lower limbs. These were no natural diseases directly or indirectly contributing to this death.” The case is currently under investigation.

In a video shared by Tamil activists on social media, Nagarasa Alex purportedly speaks about the torture he endured, including waterboarding and severe assault by the police. He describes being arrested on suspicion and subjected to severe beatings, with his hands tied behind his back, face covered, and water poured over him. Alex claims to have been hanged upside down and beaten, and he alleges the use of a petrol-choked plastic bag to cover his face during the assault.

The family of the deceased has expressed disappointment with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), claiming that their complaint filed on November 10 was not acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Alex’s mother had approached the HRCSL office in Jaffna to report her son’s arrest and express concerns about his well-being.

Nagarasa Alex, along with two others, was arrested in connection with a recent burglary in Vaddukoddai. The family, deeply worried since his arrest, now seeks justice for the alleged police brutality and demands accountability for the tragic death of their loved one. The incident underscores the importance of ensuring the protection of human rights and the need for transparent investigations into allegations of police misconduct.

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