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Sri Lanka: Amnesty International Calls on Sri Lankan Government to Act on Enforced Disappearance

[Press Release, Sunday, 13 February 2011 10:45 One Comment]

(Washington, DC) On the eve of the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Sri Lanka human rights defender Pattani Razeek, Amnesty International renews its call for the Sri Lankan government to ensure those responsible for his abduction are brought to justice.

"We understand the person who has been identified as a suspect has a close association with a government official,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert. “The government must show it will not tolerate abuses of power and ensure those responsible for Pattani Razeek’s enforced disappearance, irrespective of rank and status, are brought to justice.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Sri Lankan government to:

· Immediately investigate and disclose the fate and whereabouts of Pattani Razeek, who went missing on February 11, 2010, and immediately inform his family;

· Ensure that if he is detained by the authorities, that he is immediately removed to an official place of detention with access to a lawyer, his family and the courts; and that he is immediately released unless he is charged with an internationally recognizable offense and is remanded by an independent court;

· Establish responsibility for the disappearance of Pattani Razeek and ensure that those responsible for Pattani Razeek’s enforced disappearance, irrespective of rank and status, are brought to justice in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.

Pattani Razeek disappeared on February 11, 2010 in the town of Polonnaruwa, in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province. Police in Puttalam identified but failed to question the man they consider the prime suspect in Razeek’s enforced disappearance, a former colleague of Razeek, and a close associate of Sri Lanka’s Minister for Industry and Commerce. According to a police report, the suspect placed phone calls using Pattani Razeek’s cellular phone SIM card following his disappearance. The suspect remains at large and has applied for anticipatory bail.

Mr. Razeek is a well known human rights defender. At the time of his disappearance, he was the Managing Trustee of the Community Trust Fund (CTF), a Sri Lankan NGO based in the town of Puttalam in North Western Province. In February 2010 he was returning from a visit with colleagues when their vehicle was intercepted by a white van. Pattani Razeek approached the men in the other vehicle, and they exchanged greetings in Arabic. He returned to his CTF colleagues and said he would join the group in the white van, which according to him was headed for Valaichchenai, a town in Eastern Province. He assured his colleagues that he would meet up with them later. However, they did not see him again, and he never returned home.

Following his disappearance, his family received several ransom demands from Razeek’s alleged captors, but the callers did not follow through.

A simultaneous smear campaign against Razeek in the form of leaflets and rumors suggesting that his disappearance was linked to either political or personal activities appeared which we are concerned is aimed at discouraging human rights advocacy on his behalf. A public statement by S. R. M. M. Irshad, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Rishad Bathiudeen following Mr. Razeek’s disappearance claimed that Razeek had been detained by the Secretary of Defense because he had acted as an intermediary to transfer funds to the LTTE.

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