A court in Sri Lanka has released on bail a nun who was arrested by the police for allegedly torturing female students at the hostel of an 80 years old girls school located on an islet in the north.

Regional correspondents say that scars caused by beating had been observed on the female students’ bodies, according to the Judicial Medical Officer’s (JMO) report.

They added that the students were obtaining treatment in the Kayts Hospital even on the day of the hearing.

According to the correspondents, on 27 May, 11 female students studying at the Little Flowers Girls’ College in Karampon – also known as the ‘Little Vatican’ – had filed a complaint of assault and torture with the Kayts Police Station.

These students are between the ages of 10 and 17. Correspondents added that based on the complaint, on 28 May, the police had arrested the nun who was serving as the hostel warden.

The nun, who was produced before the court the same day, was remanded by the Kayts Magistrate until 29 May. However, on 29 May, the court released her on bail.

The 11 girls had lodged a complaint with the Kayts Police Station on 27 May saying that the school hostel warden had been torturing them for around three years.

In their complaint, the students had further said that they were thrashed for alleged mispronunciation of English words, grammatical errors in spoken English, and incorrect observation of religious rites.

Regional reporters said that the Kayts police presented the 11 female students before Jaffna Teaching Hospital JMO S. Pranavanadan.

Moreover, regional reporters explained that both parents and school authorities have ignored the alleged assaults for years, despite being informed several times.

A violation of human rights

Last year, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) had called the education ministry’s attention to the necessity of raising awareness among all schools in the country about several recommendations issued in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which has been ratified by Sri Lanka as well.

These recommendations direct schools to refrain from resorting to corporal punishment to discipline students and to maintain discipline in a manner that protects the dignity of the child.

Attention was also paid to the necessity of displaying the relevant circular, issued by the education ministry, in staff rooms. Circular no. 12/2016, which incorporates UNCRC recommendations pertains to maintaining discipline in school.

On a number of occasions, Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin had pointed out that the general public opposes the school system, whenever the education ministry guidelines on disciplinary action concerning children are being violated.

The Education Ministry’s circular says that cases can be filed against teachers for subjecting students to torture and for violating students’ fundamental rights, while disciplinary actions can also be taken against the teacher that subject students to corporal punishment.

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