Sri Lanka: Death threat against Dr. Saravanamuttu, human rights defender

Re: Death threat against Dr. Saravanamuttu, human rights defender

To: President Mahinda Rajapakse

From: Harini Sivalingam

Date: 2009-08-26

Our organization, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is deeply concerned about the safety and security of Dr. Saravanamuttu, a human rights defender working in Sri Lanka.

It has come to our attention, through credible sources, that death threats against Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) have been made. According to these sources, Dr. Saravanamuttu received in writing a death threat indicating that he “WILL be killed” for his advocacy concerning Sri Lanka continuing to receive EU GSP status.

This serious threat to the life of Dr. Saravnamuttu is an example of the climate of fear that faces human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka should take measures to ensure that all human rights defenders in Sri Lanka are free from harassment, intimidation and threats to their physical security. This is especially necessary in the aftermath of the conclusion of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. Individuals and human rights defenders must be free to express their criticisms of the Government of Sri Lanka’s human rights record during the armed conflict and to participate, through public debate and criticism in improved human rights practices in the post-conflict period.

It is apparent from the information available to LRWC, that Dr. Saravanamuttu has been targeted with the threat of execution because of his lawful efforts to promote human rights and democracy in Sri Lanka. LRWC requests the Government of Sri Lanka to:

1. immediately put in place protective measures to the safety and freedom to work of Dr. Saravanamuttu, the CPA staff, and all human rights defenders in Sri Lanka; and,

2. launch an independent investigation to identify all persons suspected of involvement in directing, authoring and communicating the death threat against Dr. Saravanamuttu; and,

3. ensure the proper prosecution of suspectsidentified before an impartial and independent court.