Open Letter to the President and Government of Sri Lanka to Expedite the Investigation of Disappeared Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender Mr Pattani Razeek
28 June 2011 4:44 am
H.E. President Mahinda Rajapakse
President of Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 243 0590
28 June 2011
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a membership-based regional human rights organization, is gravely concerned with the failure of Your Excellency’s Government on the investigation into the disappearance of Sri Lankan human rights defender, Mr Pattani Razeek, an Executive Committee Member of FORUM-ASIA, who disappeared on 11 February 2010 from Polonnaruwa, a town in the North-Central Province of Sri Lanka.
Mr Razeek, 55 years old, who was the Managing Trustee of the Community Trust Fund (CTF) in Sri Lanka, travelled to Polonnaruwa with CTF staff on 11 February 2010. In Polonnaruwa, Mr Razeek met with a group of persons in a van parked behind the Jumma Mosque. He approached the group in the van and exchanged greetings in Arabic, indicating that they were Muslim. Mr Razeek got into the van with the group, having told CTF staff that he would be travelling to the Eastern town of Valaichchenai and return to Polonnaruwa the following day. Mr Razeek has not been seen or heard from since, and his family and friends as well as the CTF have been searching for him since then.
FORUM-ASIA shares the deep pain and suffering of the family members of Mr Razeek, who have had no knowledge about the fate of their loved one to this date despite being missing for 500 days now.
Furthermore, we are extremely disappointed by the delays in taking effective action on the complaint lodged by the family of Mr Razeek to the various authorities of Sri Lanka, including the Police and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. We are significantly concerned by the failure to apprehend or question Mr Shahabdeen Nowshaadh, a person identified by the Police as the main suspect in Mr Razeek’s disappearance. We are also troubled by allegations of political influence in the investigation of this case, particularly that Nowshaadh’s arrest has been prevented allegedly due to his close association with a powerful Government Minister.
Therefore, FORUM-ASIA strongly calls on Your Excellency’s Government to:
- Expedite the search for Mr Pattani Razeek, including arresting the prime suspect Mr Shahabdeen Nowshaadh and producing him in court;
- Enhance the credibility and independence of the official inquiries that have begun over a year since the initial complaint, through timely and transparent investigation, prosecution and punishment until the fate of Mr Pattani Razeek is established and the perpetrators are brought to justice;
- Establish through immediate and concrete measures the protection of human rights defenders across Sri Lanka and ensure their safety from intimidation, torture and enforced disappearances from both the state and non-state actors in accordance with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as Sri Lanka’s obligations under the international human rights treaties to which it is a party.
We thank Your Excellency in anticipation of swift action.
Yap Swee Seng
1. Justice Priyantha R P Perera
Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 269 4924, 269 6470
2. Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General of Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 243 6421