Senior journalist further detained
Senior journalist J.S Tissainayagam was further detained for three months without charges, by a detention order on Friday.
Earlier the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) was ordered by Additional Magistrate Kumari Jayawardene to produce Mr. Tissainayagam in court on Friday. However he was not produced in courts.
When Mr. Tissainayagam’s case was called up the TID said the suspect could not be produced and requested another date. However, M. A Sumanthiran, Counsel for Mr. Tissainayagam informed the additional magistrate that Mr. Tissainayagam’s Detention Order had lapsed on June 5 and therefore under Emergency Regulations of 2005 he must be produced before a magistrate at the end of his 90 days of detention. The Counsel also held that since there was no detention order produced before the magistrate on Friday Mr. Tissainayagam was being illegally held.
The TID maintained that Mr. Tissainayagam had been taken for some ‘emergency investigations’ and therefore could not be produced that day. Mr. Tissainayagam’s counsel maintained that the date June 6 was given by the Chief Magistrate himself on May 27 and therefore it was the duty of the TID to produce the detainee as prior notice of the Magistrate’s order was given. The Additional Magistrate agreed with Mr. Tissainayagam’s counsel and ordered that the detainee be brought before recess that same day.
When the case was called up again the TID produced a letter from the TID OIC Prasanna De Alwis informing the additional magistrate that the TID had requested that a further detention order be issued. However, due to administrative delays in the Defence Ministry the Order had not arrived yet and would take a week to do so.
Mr. Tissainaygam’s counsel maintained that it was the duty of the TID to ensure that the new Detention Order was obtained prior to the lapsing of the old one and even in the instance of a Detention Order being produced, under emergency regulations the detainee needed to be produced before the Magistrate at the end of the 90 day period.
The counsel for V. Jasikaran and V. Valarmathy who were taken into custody before Mr. Tissainayagam also maintained that his clients had to be produced before the magistrate forthwith. Counsel Thavarasa maintained that the TID was reluctant to produce his clients before the Magistrate because they had been tortured and that is why the Chief Magistrate’s order for production on four previous occasions not been complied with. He also maintained that his clients had been severely warned by the TID that they should not complain of any torture, to the JMO.
The Additional Magistrate warned the TID and ordered that all three detainees be produced before her by 4 p.m on the same day. At 4 p.m the TID did not produce the detainees but produced three new detention orders for each of the suspects. The detention orders were for a further three months from June 5. The TID maintained there was no necessity to produce the detainees before court.
The additional magistrate severely reprimanded the TID stating that administrative issues cannot be cited as a cause for breaking the law, that each of the TID’s cases did not happen on the same day and therefore a system where the necessary paperwork was completed on time should be in place. She said that she herself had only one clerk even though she had a thousand cases. Yet she managed to get through her work, she said. She warned the TID that there was no reason for the TID to break the law and cite administrative snags as an excuse to do so in this case or in any other case. The additional magistrate said the law clearly stated that the detainees be produced before a magistrate and therefore warned the TID not to defy her order again but produce the detainees forthwith on June 13.
Mr. Tissainayagam has a fundamental rights case pending in the Supreme Court citing that his arrest and detention is illegal and that his fundamental rights to be free from torture, free from discrimination on grounds of ethnicity and equal protection under the law have been violated.