Posted on 17 March 2014
The Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) is extremely concerned about yesterday's arrest and interrogation of Mr. Ruki Fernando, an internationally renowned human rights defender and a previous fellow at CAHR, by Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Investigation Division on alleged acts of terrorism under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
On 16 March 2014, Mr. Fernando was arrested along with Rev. Praveen Mahesan, former Director of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (CPR). According to The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, they were brought to the Kilinochchi police station and then transferred to Vavuniya and Colombo for questioning.
"The attention that Ruki Fernando's arrest has received internationally is testimony to his integrity and standing as a human rights defender. We join the chorus of people calling for information about his whereabouts and treatment, and for his unconditional release", said Professor Paul Gready, Director of CAHR.
We remind the Sri Lankan government of its international obligation to respect the rights of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen Mahesan as a state party to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). In particular, the Sri Lankan government has a legal obligation to ensure that Mr. Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen Mahesan are not arbitrarily arrested or detained and not subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
We also urge the Sri Lankan government to uphold Mr. Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen Mahesan's rights under the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders), in particular, their right to "promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels"(Article 1).
For more information and further action on the arrest of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen Mahesan, see this urgent intervention by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.