Sri Lanka: PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU – Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives

On 20 August 2009, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu received an anonymous death threat. It had been typed in English and posted to his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka. According to its contents, Saravanamuttu was being targeted because of information he purportedly supplied to the European Union with regards to Sri Lanka’s receipt of the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus benefits. It states that “come October and Sri Lanka is denied GSP plus you WILL be killed” (emphasis in original), because of anticipated job losses” [1]. Saravanamuttu lodged a complaint with the police and wrote to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa requesting his assurance that there would be an “immediate and impartial investigation.”

According to its website, the CPA describes its primary role as “the dissemination and advocacy of policy alternatives for non-violent conflict resolution and democratic governance” [2]. It also notes that the organization has “has consistently argued that the GSP Plus benefits must be renewed, and that Sri Lanka should use the opportunity to also strengthen its human rights protection framework by complying with international human rights law” [3].

On 27 August 2009, a “Statement Condemning Death Threat against Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu,” signed by 133 petitioners, was published in several Sri Lankan newspapers. On 28 August 2009, the Criminal Investigation Division questioned several of the signatories, asking them about their involvement with Saravanamuttu and with each other and whether they knew had sent the threatening letter [4].

The death threat has been condemned by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders [5] and Front Line [6].


LRWC letter written August 26 2009 by Harini Savalingam