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URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

LKA 002 / 0310 / OBS 035


Defamation campaign / Fear of arrest
Sri Lanka
March 11, 2010

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 in the following situation in Sri Lanka.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the defamation campaign
against Mr. J. C. Weliamuna, Executive Director of Transparency International - Sri Lanka
(TISL), an organisation involved in revealing the abuse of public resources in the context of
the Sri Lankan presidential elections of January 26, 20101.

According to the information received, during the last weeks, Mr. J. C. Weliamuna has been
the target of a string of defamation articles published in local Sinhalese and English printed
media containing false information about the misuse of TISL's funds. The articles also portray
TISL in the framework of a wider campaign carried out by the Government against national
and international non-governmental organisations, accusing them of trying to destabilise the
country and announcing that the Act dealing with these organisations will be amended to take
proper action against them whenever it is necessary.

On March 3, 2010, an article published in Lanka News Web stated that Mr. Weliamuna heads
a list of 35 human rights defenders and journalists supportive of the opposition. The list was
allegedly produced by the Sri Lankan intelligence services. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu,
Executive Director of the NGO the Centre for Policy Alternatives, would also be on this list.

According to the information received, there would also be a move to arrest and detain Mr.
Weliamuna on fabricated charges, in connection with reports Transparency International
issued during the presidential election campaign in December and January, alleging
violations of election laws and misuse of public resources by the ruling party.

Previously, on September 27, 2008, two grenades were thrown at Mr. Weliamuna's
residence. One grenade exploded on the balcony and damaged the building, while the other
was found unexploded inside the house2. Recently, the Sri Lankan Government argued that
Mr. Weliamuna was responsible of this attack in order to get publicity for himself.

Despite Mr. Weliamuna's letter to the President of Sri Lanka, there has been no action taken
to provide protection to him or to investigate the allegations regarding the list.

The Observatory strongly condemns the defamation campaign against Mr. J. C. Weliamuna
as well as any judicial or administrative proceedings against him, and fears for his physical
and psychological integrity. The Observatory further condemns the attempts of the
government to discredit the work of TISL and other national and international human rights
organisations. The Observatory calls upon the Sri Lankan authorities to put an immediate
end to the harassment against Mr. J. C. Weliamuna, which seem to merely aims at
sanctioning his human rights activities, and to refrain from arresting him.

1
As part of his work with TISL, Mr. Weliamuna is involved in a public campaign against corruption as well as in
advocacy efforts related to the implementation of the 17th Amendment of the Constitution, which is aimed at
establishing independent institutions on human rights, police, bribery and corruption.
2
See Observatory Annual Report 2009.
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Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Sri Lanka asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. J. C.


Weliamuna, Mr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, all members of Transparency International - Sri
Lanka as well as of all human rights defenders in Sri Lanka;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. J. C.
Weliamuna as well against all human rights defenders, national and international
organisations in Sri Lanka;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the above-
mentioned acts of harassment, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify
those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them
the sanctions provided by the law;

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
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 the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Addresses:

• 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, Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk
• Mr. Mohan Peiris, Attorney General, Attorney General’s Department, Colombo 12, Sri
Lanka, Fax: +94 11 2 436421
• Mrs. Chandra Ellawala, Secretary, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, 118,
Barnes Place, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka. Fax +94 2694924, Hotline +94 2689064.
Email: sechrc@slnet.lk
• Mr. Mahinda Balasuriya, Inspector General Of Police (IGP), New Secretariat,
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka. Fax no. +94 11 2 440440, Email: igp@police.lk
• National Police Commission, 3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers, 109 Galle Road, Colombo
03, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11 2 395867 / +94 11-2395866. E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk /
polcom@sltnet.lk
• Her Excellency Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Sri
Lanka to the United Nations in Sri Lanka, 56 rue De Moillebeau, 5th Floor, 1211
Geneva 19, Switzerland, Fax: + 41-22 734 90 84, E-mail: mission@lankamission.org
• 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:
sri.lanka@euronet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Sri Lanka in your respective
country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Sri Lanka.

***
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Geneva - Paris, March 11, 2010

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights
Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory
was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

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 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80