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Sri Lanka
24.04.12
Urgent Interventions

Harassment and intimidation faced by Mrs. Sandya Ekneligoda, wife of the disappeared journalist, Mr. Prageeth Ekneligoda

​Case LKA 090210.1

Follow-up of urgent appeal LKA 090210

Harassment and intimidation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information and requestsyour URGENTintervention in the following situation in Sri Lanka.

New information

The International Secretariat ofOMCT has been informed by a reliable source about the harassment andintimidation faced by Mrs. Sandya Ekneligoda, the wife ofdisappeared journalist Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Ekneligoda, afterreturning from Geneva, Switzerland, where she attended a side event at the 19th session of theUnited Nations Human Rights Council[1].OMCT recalls that Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Eknaligoda, a journalist working for theLankaeNews Website, has remained disappeared since 24 January 2010, two days before the presidentialelection and shortly after he wrote articles supporting the presidentialopposition candidate.

According to the informationreceived, on 26 March 2012, a day after returning from Geneva, Mrs. SandyaEkneligoda attended a hearing at the Homagama Magistrate’s Courts (Colombo district), inconnection with her husband’s disappearance. The hearing was an inquiryfollowing Mrs. Sandya Ekneligoda’s plea to the High Court to summon Mr. MohanPeiris, Advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers and former Attorney General, tocourts to give evidence in relation to a statement he had made in Geneva, inNovember 2011, to the UN Committee against Torture in which he had said thather husband had not disappeared, but was living abroad.

According to the same informationreceived, during the aforementioned court hearing, Mr. Shavindra Fernando,Deputy Solicitor General, appearing for the Attorney General’s department,questioned Mrs. Sandya Ekneligoda at length on matters related to herparticipation in the 19th session of the Human Rights Council,notably who invited her and who paid for her expenses. He reportedly also askedher why she did take the matter up internationally, including why shecomplained before the UN. Although the defense objected to the line ofquestions, the questioning allegedly lasted approximately an hour while therewas little said about Mr. Mohan Peiris’ statement on Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Ekneligoda’s disappearance. Furthermore, Mr.Shavindra Fernando reportedly stated that the certified copy of the transcriptof Mr. Mohan Peiris’s statement provided by the UN Office of the HighCommissioner for Human Rights could not be taken as a true copy and that it wasnot proper to summon Mr. Mohan Peiris, as he had made the statement about thedisappeared journalist’s whereabouts as an official representative of theGovernment.

OMCT is gravely concerned about the harassment and intimidation faced byMrs. Sandya Ekneligoda, in particular with the line of questioning in relationto her participation in the 19th session of the Human Rights Counciland to the case of her husband brought at the international level. OMCT urgesthe competent authorities to guarantee her safety at all times.

OMCT also reiterates its call on the competentauthorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Ekneligoda, in accordance with international human rightsstandards, the result of which must be madepublic, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent andimpartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions asprovided by law.

Background information

OMCT had earlier been informedabout the disappearance of Mr. Prageeth Ranjan BandaraEknaligoda.

According to the informationreceived, on 24 January 2010, Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Eknaligodadisappeared after he left LankaeNews Website office. The last person who heardfrom him was reportedly Mr. Gamini Perera, who usually drove him home. However,that day, Mr. Eknaligoda allegedly called him on the phone and told him that hehad arranged an alternative transport and that he was at Koswatte.

Accordingto the same information, on 25 January 2010, Mr. Eknaligoda’s wife went alongwith Mr. Perera to the Homogama police station and tried to register herhusband’s disappearance, but the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) informed her that thestation was unable to register the complaint without a previous instruction bya higher officer and advised her to register with the Koswatte police. Onlyafter Mr. Eknaligoda’s wife insisted did the officer agree to register theincident.

Onlyonce, on 28 January 2010, were Mr. Eknaligoda’s family andneighbors reportedly questioned on Mr. Eknalidoga’s disappearance by an officerfrom Homagama police station and two officers pretending to be from theCriminal Investigation Division (CID). However, to date, no information hasbeen provided about the status of the investigation.

Itis noteworthy that, after Mr. Eknaligoda disappeared, the LankaeNews Websitewas blocked by the authorities, until after the election. Furthermore, on 28January 2010,its premises were searched at night by a large number of unidentified persons.

Mr.Eknaligoda had previously been victim of an unresolved abduction. On 27August 2009,he had been reportedly taken away, blindfolded, and then chained in a cell bytwo men who were allegedly responding to instructions from someone referred toas a “higher officer”. Mr. Eknaligoda had been reportedly released when the twomen were told by the “higher officer” that he wasn’t the right target.

Actionrequested

Please write to the authorities in Sri Lanka urging them to:

i. Immediately locate the whereabouts of Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Ekneligoda;

ii. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychologicalintegrity of Mrs. Sandya Ekneligoda andher family;

iii. Put an end to all forms ofharassment and intimidation against Mrs.Sandya Ekneligoda and her family;

iv. Carry out aprompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the disappearanceof Mr. Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Ekneligoda, the results of which must be madepublic, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent andimpartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions asprovided by law;

v. Ensure that an effective remedy be granted tothe victim concerned and his family;

vi. Ensurethe respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country inaccordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

Ø Mr. MahindaRajapakse, President, Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, C/- Office ofthe President,Temple Trees 150, Galle Road,Colombo 3, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11472100 / +94 11 2446657, Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk

Ø Mr. MahindaBalasuriya, Inspector General of Police (IGP), New Secretariat, Colombo 1, SriLanka, Fax: +94 11 2 440440, E-mail: igp@police.lk

Ø Secretary,National Police Commission, 3rd Floor Rotunda Towers, 109 Galle Road, Colombo03, Sri Lanka,Tel/Fax: +94 11 2 395960, E-mail: polcom@sltnet.lk

Ø AttorneyGeneral, Attorney General's Department, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11 2436421

Ø Secretary,Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, No 108 Barnes Place, Colombo 07
Sri Lanka,Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806, Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470,E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

Ø PermanentMission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue de Moillebeau 56,1211 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 734 90 84, Email: mission.srilanka@ties.itu.int

Please also write to thediplomatic representations of Sri Lanka in your respective countries.

***

Geneva, 24 April 2012

Kindly informOMCT of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in yourreply

[1] Mrs. Sandya Ekneligoda was one of the speakers during a side eventtitled “Rule of Law and human rights violations in Sri Lanka:Perspectives from women, minorities and families of disappeared” that tookplace on 19thMarch 2012. She was invited to share herperspective as the wife of disappeared journalist Mr. Prageeth Ekneligoda andas a women human rights defenders who has been engaging with various Sri Lankanlegal institutions and governmental officials as well as international bodiesto search for her husband while also advocating more broadly fordemocratisation in Sri Lanka and on the plight and aspirations of families ofdisappeared.

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