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Sri Lanka

Release on bail of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumary after 362 days in detention without charge

SRI LANKA: Release on bail of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumaryafter 362 days in detention without charge.

Geneva-Paris, March 20, 2015 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, an OMCT-FIDH joint programme, welcomes the release of Sri Lankanhuman rights defender Ms. Balendran Jeyakumary after 362 days in detentionwithout charges, but calls for all restrictions to be lifted and for an immediateand unconditional ending of any acts of judicial harassment.

On March 10, 2015,the Magistrate Court of Hulftsdorf approved the bail application of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumary after 362 dayssince she was detained without any charges, following the payment of a 200,000LKR bail ($3,300). However, she is still besubjected to some restrictions, including monthly police reporting and havingher passport confiscated. Six other detainees were also released on the sameday.

On March13, 2014, Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13-year old daughter Vithuskaini,were arrested after having been campaigning against enforced disappearances.While Vithuskaini was subsequently placed under the care of Probation and ChildCare Service, Ms. Jeyakumari was held in Boosa detention centre under the Preventionof Terrorism Act (PTA), according to which a person can be held without chargefor up to 18 months if accused of “terrorist connections” with the LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)[1].

The Observatory isextremely concerned by the use of the PTA by the Sri Lankan authorities to undermine the legitimacy of the peaceful activities ofhuman rights defenders in Sri Lanka. For instance, according to reliablesources, Ms. Jeyakumary’s detention has been perceived as a measureaimed at intimidating the whole of human rights defenders working in thecountry. Around 300 political prisoners are still being held under the PTA,which contravenes Sri Lanka’s obligation to ensure that due process guaranteesare respected for all detainees. In addition, the implementation of such a lawis coupled with intimidation and harassment on the part of the military andsecurity forces against families of those forcibly disappeared, Tamil activists,and other human rights defenders in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

TheObservatory welcomes the release on bail of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumary, and callsupon the Sri Lanka authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end toany act of harassment against her, including at the judicial level. Inaddition, the Observatory hopes that her release can mark the beginning of abroader reversal of the pattern of harassment of human rights defenders in thecountry.

For moreinformation, please contact:

· OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui: + 41 (0) 22 809 4924

· FIDH: Audrey Couprie/Arthur Manet: + 33 (0) 1 43 5525 18

[1] On March 18, 2014, the Representative of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka tothe United Nations in Geneva made a public statement about the supposedterrorist affiliations of Ms. Jeyakumary Balendaran and other human rightsdefenders in jail, in response to concerns raised by several NGOs during the25th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

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