Sri Lankan government under pressure over missing human rights activist

Sri Lankan government under pressure over missing human rights activist

By agency reporter
13 Feb 2011

A year after the disappearance of Sri Lankan human rights defender Pattani Razeek, Amnesty International have renewed their 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's Sri Lanka expert.

She added, “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 are calling on the Sri Lankan government to immediately investigate and disclose the fate and whereabouts of Pattani Razeek, who went missing on 11 February 2010, and immediately inform his family.

They also want the Sri Lankan government to ensure that if Razeek 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 recognisable offence and is remanded by an independent court.

Amnesty say that the authorities should also establish responsibility for the disappearance of Pattani Razeek and ensure that those responsible for his enforced disappearance, irrespective of rank and status, are brought to justice in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.
 
Razeek disappeared in the town of Polonnaruwa, in Sri Lanka's North Central Province. Amnesty say that 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 mobile phone SIM card following his disappearance.  The suspect remains at large and has applied for anticipatory bail.  
 
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.

According to Amnesty, he was returning from a visit with colleagues in February 2010 when their vehicle was intercepted by a white van. Pattani Razeek approached the men in the other vehicle, and 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 appeared against Razeek in the form of leaflets and rumours suggesting that his disappearance was linked to either political or personal activities. Amnesty are concerned that this is aimed at discouraging human rights advocacy on his behalf. 

[Ekk/1]

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