Sri Lanka: Acts of surveillance and intimidation of Mr. Lakshan Dias
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
LKA 001 / 0213 / OBS 020
Intimidation acts / Threats
February 26, 2013
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in Sri Lanka.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acts of surveillance and intimidation of Mr. Lakshan Dias, a well-known human rights lawyer in Sri Lanka. In particular, Mr. Dias has appeared for victims of human rights violations in fundamental rights applications before the Supreme Court and lower courts. He has also been an active and leading member of Lawyers for Democracy and the Lawyers Collective, which in late 2012 and early 2013 led the campaigner against the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.
According to the information received, from February 22 to February 26, 2013, men in motorcycles and white van have been loitering around Mr. Lakshan Dias’ residence. White vans are widely used for abductions in Sri Lanka and are cause for fear. Some of these went away without speaking to anyone. But others spoke to Mr. Lakshan Dias’ wife and neighbours and asked about him without giving specific details.
A formal complaint was lodged on these threatening developments at the Moratuwa police (Colombo district) under reference no. CIB-1- 232/442 on February 25, 2013. Updates of further incidents were also communicated to the police. As of today, action taken by the police is not known.
One of the persons who visited the neighbourhood and asked about Mr. Lakshan Dias identified himself as an Inspector of Police to a neighbour, but later on, the Officer in Charge of the police station to where Mr. Dias lodged a complaint denied knowing an Inspector by that name.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern about those acts of surveillance and intimidation, which seem to be aimed at sanctioning Mr. Lakshan Dias’ human rights activities. Reportedly, other lawyers who were involved in the campaign against impeachment of the 43rd Chief Justice of Sri Lanka also faced acts of surveillance, attempted abduction, shootings and threatening letters. The Observatory fears for Mr. Dias’ physical and psychological integrity, and calls upon the Sri Lankan authorities to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity.
Please write to the authorities in Sri Lanka, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Lakshan Dias;
ii. Carry out a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above mentioned facts in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Put an end to any act of harassment against Mr. Lakshan Dias and all human rights defenders in Sri Lanka, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Sri Lanka.
- President Mahinda Rajapakse, Presidential Secretariat, C/- Office of the President, Temple Trees 150, Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11 472100 / +94 11 2446657 / +94 11 243 0590, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
- D.M. Jayaratne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, No. 58, Sir Ernest De Silva Mawatha, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka. Fax no: +94 112 575454. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Justice Priyantha R. P. Perera, Chairman, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, No. 165 Kynsey Road,Borella, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka. Fax +94 2694924 / +94112696470 / +94112689558, Hotline +94 2689064. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Mr. Ravinatha P. Aryasinha, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva, 56 rue De Moillebeau, 5th Floor, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland, Fax: + 41-22 734 90 84, E-mail: email@example.com
- Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brussels, 27 rue Jules Lejeune, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium. Tel: + 32 2 344 53 94/ + 32 2 344 55 85. Fax: + 32 2 344 67 37. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Sri Lanka in your respective country.
Geneva-Paris, February 26, 2013
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Mr. Dias has also engaged in advocacy work nationally and internationally, often speaking out against torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, disappearances, elements in the Prevention of Terrorism Act that contradicts Sri Lanka’s international treaty obligations etc., as well as on migrant workers and refugees from other countries coming to Sri Lanka. He has often offered advice and assistance to victims and families of those detained, disappeared. He has also been actively engaged with the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, participating in meetings, sharing information and offering them assistance. He has also been involved in conducting trainings for human rights defenders around Sri Lanka.