Roy Samathanam, a Tamil torture survivor, who filed a civil lawsuit against Sri Lanka's former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, described how his experience of torture at the hands of Sri Lankan security forces "never goes away", speaking in London today.
Samathanam was physically and psychologically tortured after being detained in Colombo in September 2007 by the Terrorism Investigation Department of the police (TID). He was only released in August 2010 after signing a false confession and accepting a plea deal. He won a case against the Sri Lankan government at the UN Committee Against Torture but the Sri Lankan government did not comply with the order for compensation.
“Sexual assaults were normal on women inside the prison,” Samathanam said. “It never goes away. The images I saw, the girls who were there and the guys were being sexually assaulted, I can still remember their faces and I can still remember what happened.”
He has now launched legal action against Rajapaksa, through the International Truth and Justice Project and the American law firm Hausfield.
He spoke to the Tamil Guardian and shared his experiences.
See a video interview above and extracts transcribed below.
They handcuff me took me to the TID headquarters in Colombo and kept me in solitary. No courts or lawyers were allowed only the embassy because I was a Canadian citizen.
No lawyer could represent me because I was kept under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. An illegal law which is not accepted in democratic countries. Kept there for one year.
They got a confession from me which they told me to write, then charged me with the confession and then took me to the high court.
The charges were to trying to kill the army commander, ministers, VIP
There was no charges everything was framed up.
Ended up pleading guilty for GPS which is under civil law, comes under regulatory, telecoms regulatory. I violated that.
I was charged with that and kept for three years.
I went to Geneva and filed a case. I won the case in 2015.
There were recommendations given for six months [that] the suspect should be compensated.
Nothing happened so I continued to file charges in the civil court just to start the process.
I think more victims will come forwards.
I was diagnosed with PTSD and it has really affected my family, my kids, my wife. They saw the way I was taken into detention.
I hope I get justice in the future."