WCC renews call to free Sri Lankan peace and justice worker

By agency reporter
April 22, 2009

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia has urged the government of Sri Lanka to immediately release from detention Shanta Fernando, an ecumenical official who has been under arrest for nearly a month.

In a 21 April 2009 letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Kobia expressed "deep concern" as "no specific reason for the arrest or detention of Mr Fernando has been given so far". "Widely recognized as an Asian ecumenical leader with integrity and a strong commitment to justice and peace," Fernando "remains a victim of unlawful arrest and detention".

Fernando, who is the executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), was taken into custody by the Terrorism Investigation Department of the Sri Lankan police at Colombo International Airport on 27 March 2009.

In his letter, Dr Kobia stressed that "the actions surrounding the arrest and detention of Mr Fernando did not follow the procedures prescribed by law. As the reasons for his arrest have not been provided, there is thereby a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Sri Lankan Constitution," as well as of international human rights law.

The full text of the letter is here: http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6807

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