Grenade Attack on Executive Director, TISL

Grenade Attack on Executive Director, TISL

A grenade attack was made on the residence of the Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), Mr. J.C. Weliamuna. The attack took place at around 11.40pm on 27th September 2008. Although there is no indication of the source of the attack, it is reasonable to assume that the attack was aimed at the work that he’s involved with as a human rights lawyer and an active opponent against corruption in Sri Lanka.

 

TISL is deeply concerned with the continuing attacks on activists, journalists and civil society. This is another effort to curb the freedom of expression and conscience of the people of Sri Lanka. We vehemently oppose these acts which constricts the space to dissent.
TISL wants to alert all TI chapters and international organizations about the attack on its executive director and hope that all will stand in solidarity to protect his life.
Transparency International Sri Lanka
(www.tisrilanka.org)
Colombo, 28th September 2008

 

 

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Grenade attack condemned

Several organizations have condemned the grenade attack on TISL Executive Director, J.C. Weliamuna.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka called upon police to investigate the attack and bring the culprits to book immediately.

Full text of the statement: Mr. J. C. Weliamuna is a member of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and a delegate to the Bar Council. Mr. J. C. Weliamuna has appeared and is appearing in several cases which involves infringement of Fundamental Rights and Public Interest Litigation.
Last Week, Mr. Weliamuna made submissions in the Supreme Court stating that a lawyer appearing for a client had been subjected to death threats in connection with his professional duties.

 

On Saturday the 27th of September 2008, Mr. Weliamuna proposed a resolution at the Bar Council meeting, condemning the interference and threat and sought immediate representation to the relevant authorities and that full and independent inquiry be held into this incident by the Police and stern action be taken against those who are responsible. The said resolution was unanimously passed at the Bar Council meeting.
In the evening of 27th September 2008 at approximately 11.30 p.m. Mr. Weliamuna’s residence was subjected to a grenade attack.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka strongly and unreservedly condemns this attack. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka also calls upon the Police to investigate the said attack without delay and bring the miscreants to justice. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka will extend its fullest support to the Police in this task. An emergency EXCO meeting is summoned to discuss the matter further.
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Free Media Movement
The Free Media Movement (FMM) of Sri Lanka issued the following statement:
The Free Media Movement (FMM) vehemently condemns the grenade attack last night on the residence of Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, prominent attorney-at-law, and Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL). According to reports, the attack took place at around 11:45 p.m. on 27th September 2008, in which two grenades were thrown at Mr. Weliamuna’s residence, one of which did not explode. We understand that while there is damage to the house, there were no physical injuries sustained by Mr. Weliamuna or his wife and two infant children who were in the house at the time. In what has become a familiar if horrifying pattern in respect of similar attacks, Mr. Weliamuna’s residence is located in close propinquity to a police station (Kohuwela), an army camp (Kohuwela-Pepiliyana road, and close to which there is a regular army mobile checkpoint at night) and a major checkpoint and roadblock in an entrance to Colombo (the Saranankara Road bridge).
Mr. Weliamuna, who is a well-known human rights lawyer, presently appears in a number of important pending fundamental rights cases, some of which involve high officials associated closely with the present regime. In particular, we note that Mr. Weliamuna was counsel in a fundamental rights application involving serious police malpractice that came up for hearing last week, in which the Supreme Court ordered a special investigation regarding the police on questions relating to criminal intimidation and the filing of false charges against the petitioner by the police. In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Weliamuna is engaged in the public campaign against bribery and corruption in his work with TISL, as well as civil society advocacy in regard to the non-implementation of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution. In the recent past, we note that TISL has published a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and that Mr. Weliamuna has been an active voice against insidious attempts to whittle down the scope of the Seventeenth Amendment.

 

FMM regards this attack as a matter of grave significance. It is an attempt to harm and intimidate a lawyer and civil society activist, and through such attacks to send a broader message to those who represent the cause of human rights, good governance, accountability and integrity in public life. This reprehensible act of violent intimidation therefore is an attempt to silence critical and dissenting voices, including civil society and the media. It also represents a clear challenge to the independence and integrity of the legal profession, and contempt for the rule of law and legal processes. FMM would urge the media and legal professions, civil society, and the judiciary to regard this attack as an act of aggression against all of us and the democratic values upon which our respective professions and institutions are founded.
FMM calls upon the responsible authorities to immediately conduct a full, independent, and impartial investigation into this attack with a view to apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators, and to make such findings public as a matter of urgency. We hope that such an investigation will not go the way of such investigations in a countless number of cases before, whereby nothing tangible has ever resulted by way of bringing the culprits to justice. FMM would like to express its concern for and solidarity with Mr. Weliamuna and his young family at this time of acute distress.
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Asian Human Rights Commission
Describing the grenade attack as “chilling but not surprising” AHRC states:
“This attack is chilling but not surprising. Threats and attacks are targeted at everyone who tries to highlight the abuses of politicians and state officers,” said Basil Fernando, the director of the Asian Human Rights Commission. “Now senior lawyers themselves are being targeted for nothing other than being engaged in their professional duties to their clients.”
Fernando further said, “even at the worst times in the late 1980s no senior lawyer was targeted. What is taking place is a most comprehensive form of repression with the view to silence everyone who is making any attempt to seek protection of law. This is one of the most terrible times in the country.”
The Asian Human Rights Commission calls on the Sri Lankan government to thoroughly investigate this matter with a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID). There is all the likelihood of the investigation being mishandled unless special attempt is made for inquiries to be conducted by a competent and independent SIU.
It is also the duty of all the lawyers and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka to come strongly in support of one of its members who has taken a very keen interest in the rights of others.
The Supreme Court and the judiciary also need to take up the issue of the protection of the lawyers.

AHRC also calls upon the lawyers outside Sri Lanka to intervene with the Sri Lankan government to condemn this attack and also to ensure an independent inquiry by a competent body.

The UN agencies and the international anti-corruption and human rights organizations should intervene for the defence of one of the best known human rights defenders in Sri Lanka.
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United States condemns attack on Sri Lanka anti-corruption activist’s residence
Source: http://www.lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=1630995333
Sept 29, 2008 (LBO) – The United States has condemned an attack on the residence of anti-corruption activist and human rights lawyer J C Weliamuna, calling on authorities to launch an immediate investigation.
Weliamuna is also the executive director of the Sri Lanka branch of Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog body.
A grenade was thrown into the upper floor of Weliamuna’s house Saturday night but no one was injured. Another grenade was found on the premises.
The US embassy in Colombo said it commended Weliamuna’s work “as a defender of those who seek to fight corruption, protect the victims of abuse, and advance the cause of human rights in Sri Lanka.”
“We look to the authorities to launch an immediate investigation into this act of violence and bring the perpetrators of this crime swiftly to justice,” the embassy said in a statement.
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European Union condemns the grenade attack on Transparency International Executive Director’s residence

 

The European Union condemns the grenade attack of 27th September that targeted the residence of the Executive Director of Transparency
International Sri Lanka (TISL), Mr. J.C. Weliamuna who is a prominent and respected lawyer.
Although there is no indication on the reasons or on the perpetrators of this attack, it is assumed that the attack may have been against the
important Human Rights and Anti corruption work Mr.Weliamuna was involved in.
The EU notes with concern the trend in attacks and threats on journalists, civil society organizations and now a lawyer. We believe it
is important that the essential work of civil society organisations such as that of Transparency International Sri Lanka should be supported and
that its Representative and staff are safeguarded.
The European Union urges the Government of Sri Lanka to do everything possible to investigate fully this incident and to ensure that those
responsible are brought to justice.

 

European Union – Colombo
29/09/2008
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National Peace Council of Sri Lanka – Media Release

Bomb Attack on Human Rights Lawyer and Civic Activist indicative of a dangerous trend
On Saturday night an unidentified gang lobbed two hand grenades at the residence of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) Director and
Attorney at-Law J.C Weliamuna. Mr. Weliamuna’s residence is located in close proximity to a police station (Kohuwela), and an army camp
(Kohuwela-Pepiliyana road. The attack demonstrates the blatant disregard criminals now have for regular structures of law and order.
The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka condemns the grenade attack on the residence of J C Weliamuna. The NPC views this attack as part of a broader assault on human rights, good governance, accountability and integrity in public life and thus demands stern action be taken against those responsible. We are particularly saddened by this attack as it had taken place at night, when his family and two young children were present. Mr Weliamuna has been a colleague and partner in work we are doing. We appreciate his courage and commitment to the rule of law and to integrity in public life.
Mr. J.C. Weliamuna is presently involved in a number of cases which deal with infringements upon fundamental rights and public interest litigation. Of particular interest are pending cases which involve government officials and member of the police force. Furthermore, last week Mr. Weliamuna made submissions to the Supreme Court, stating that a fellow lawyer had been subjected to death threats for fulfilling his professional duties.
The attack on Mr. Weliamuna is thus suggestive of a dangerous trend of intimidation and interference in the country’s legal processes. The NPC views this attack as an attempt to harm and intimidate a lawyer and civil society activist and to possibly send a warning to all advocates of human rights, good governance, accountability and integrity in public life. This act of violent intimidation can be interpreted as a thinly veiled attempt to silence critical and dissenting voices in the country.
We join the Free Media Movement (FMM), civil society activists and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka’s (BASL) in condemning this attack as an act which threatens not only us all but the very democratic values upon which our respective professions and institutions are founded.

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Transparency International vehemently condemns bombing of Sri Lankan anti-corruption advocate’s home
Calls on Sri Lankan authorities to take immediate and specific steps to ensure the safety of Weliamuna and his family
Berlin, 30 September 2008
Transparency International (TI) today vehemently condemned the attempt on the life of J. C. Weliamuna, prominent Sri Lankan anti-corruption and human rights advocate, and Executive Director of TI Sri Lanka (TISL), following a grenade attack on his family’s home in Colombo late Saturday, 27 September. Weliamuna, his wife and two young children escaped injury.
TI is deeply concerned by this attempt to intimidate anti-corruption and human rights advocates, and all those who dedicate their lives to building a better future for Sri Lanka. TI calls on the government of Sri Lanka to ensure a fair, speedy and transparent investigation, and to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Weliamuna, his family and the personnel of TI Sri Lanka.
The bombing of Weliamuna’s home is the latest episode in a continuing wave of harassment of activists, journalists and civil society – seen as a concerted effort to curb the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka – although the precise motives of Saturday’s perpetrator remains unclear.

TI, currently participating in a meeting on the protection of anti-corruption advocates being held in Helsinki at the invitation of the Finnish government, condemns all intimidation tactics against anti-corruption advocates, from professional discrimination to physical threats.

TI remains in constant contact with Weliamuna, tracking events as they unfold.

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Sri Lanka: Attack against human rights lawyer threatens rule of law and
independence of the bar

 The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) strongly condemns the grenade attack on 27 September against prominent Sri Lankan human rights lawyer, J.C Weliamuna, and calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to launch a prompt, independent, impartial and transparent investigation.  At around 11.30 pm on the 27 September a grenade exploded on Mr. Weliamuna’s balcony at his residence in Kohuwela, Colombo. The explosion shattered the windows of the house, but fortunately did not cause physical injury to Mr. Weliamuna, his wife or his two young children. A grenade pin was found outside the house, along with a second unexploded device that was defused by the police in the early hours of Sunday morning.   

Mr. Weliamuna serves as Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka, an NGO that highlights bribery and corruption and documents the misuse of public property by the state. He is also legal counsel in a number of sensitive fundamental rights cases, some of which involve allegations of torture, extra judicial killings and disappearances. Earlier on the 27th, Mr Weliamuna had moved
a resolution at a meeting of the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in a case that involve death threats received by a lawyer  appearing in a fundamental rights case against the police. About ten days ago, unidentified assailants killed one of his clients who had initiated a case of bribery against the police and a fundamental rigts case.

Mr. Weliamuna is also active in a broad coalition of activists and professionals calling for the re‐establishment of the Constitutional Council, a multipartisan constitutional body that makes recommendations for appointment to the countrys independent institutions and higher juiciary, including the Human Rights Commission, the Police Commission and Elections Commission. The Constitutional Council has been defunct for about two years and the President has refused to make new appointments as requred by the Constitution.  This attack  against a senior and wellrespected human rights lawyer must be seen in the context of rising human rights violations in Sri Lanka and
 increasing attackson freedom of expression and the right to dissent,ʺ said Roger Normand, ICJʹs Asia‐Pacific Director. The growing climate of fear and intimidation in Sri Lanka constitutes a threat not only to individual human rights defenders, but to the country’s democratic institutions and traditions.

 
Mr. Weliamuna has called for an effective investigation into the incident. He told the ICJ, “It is important to have a transparent and open investigation. This is more important than my personal security. This is the beginning of series of threats against the justice system in Sri Lanka. Unless this is stopped right now we will soon see attacks on prosecutors followed by attacks on judges. It is vital to investigate this impartially and independently, identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice if further attacks are to be prevented. It is important that the Bar takes a strong stand on the issue.”

 
Article 14 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees the rights of free expression and the right to practice oneʹs profession. Similar guarantees are found in the international human rights covenants to which Sri Lanka is a party and which the Governmen has publicly vowed to protect and promote.   The ICJ calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to uphold the rule of law and protect the independence and security of the leal profession by initiating a prompt, impartial and transparent investigation into the attack, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. The independence of the judiciary and the legal profession have long been cornerstones of Sri Lanka’s constitutional governmen. The state must do its utmost to protect and promote these fundamental values.

 

INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS
Commission internationale de juristes – Comisión Internacional de Juristas
” dedicated since 1952 to the primacy, coherence and implementation of international law and principles that advance human rights ”
COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE – COMUNICADO DE PRENSA
29 September 2008 IMMEDIATE
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Bomb Attack on Defending Lawyer of the Working Class Interest

We are shocked to here the bomb attack on Mr. J.C.Weliamuna’s residence at the time when he and his family were present. We demand an immediate inquiry and to bring the culprits before the law.
Mr. J.C.Weliamuna never hesitates to represents the working class and defends their interest and he never expects any returns. Apart from that he champions the Protection of Public Property, Spear heads a movement to curb bribery and corruption and appears for several cases where fundamental rights appear to have been violated.
On this backdrop we are compelled to suspect ulterior motives behind this cowardly act and consider it as a blatant attack on the democratic ideals.

Let justice prevail
CONFEDERATION OF PUBLIC SERVICE INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS- (COPSITU)
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Bomb attack on the residence of Human Rights Lawyer and Civil Activist
Mr.J.C. Weliamuna.
We were shocked to hear that a Grenade attack aimed at the residence of Executive Director of the Transparency International, and Human Rights Lawyer / Civil Activist – J.C. Weliamuna, took place on the night of 27th September 2008.
In addition to Mr.Weliamuna’s appearance on behalf of victims for human right cases, he is playing a leading role in protest campaigns in order to fight against anti – social elements involved in bribery and corruption. Given the nature and the circumstance, it is obvious that this attack was aimed to intimidate him, and prevent his activities and the Fundamental Right cases. Mr. Weliamuna says that he has no personal enemies, Therefore the conclusion that this bomb throwing has been planned in protest of his professional activities, is clearly established.
Whatever the reasons behind the message left by the attack, it is aimed at a man who takes on his shoulders, the grievances of other oppressed people in society. It is a dangerous, trend. Does this imply that a citizen should not have any right to oppose anything, according to his conscience? If it is the case, it is a bad precedence in our society, as there is no fairness and justice for the oppressed people, which is very unfortunate.
PAFFREL therefore vehemently condemns this bomb attack, and reminds the Government to accept responsibility to investigate, and punish those vile perpetrators.
Kingsley Rodrigo
PAFFREL – Chairman
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CCC condemns attack on Weliamuna

 

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has condemned the act intended to cause harm and/or intimidate Mr.J. C. Weliamuna, Attorney-at-Law, a prominent advocate of good governance, transparency and human rights. Issuing a press release the CCC noted that this deplorable attack was carried out on the night of September 27 targeting Mr. Weliamuna’s residence in Kohuwala, an area that is under considerable amount of police and military protection with around-the-clock surveillance.

 

According to the release, the CCC believes that it is the duty of the Government to ensure that action is taken by the law enforcement authorities to bring the perpetrators of this act to book.

 

The CCC noted that while the demands for concerted action brings about a reaction in response, in the form of a commitment to investigate, in fact, the culprits are usually not apprehended. If this state of affairs continues, then the value of the contribution and the competence of those responsible needs to be seriously examined.
The CCC believes that it is particularly important for the authorities not only to be seen but as well as to act effectively if Sri Lanka as a country is to demonstrate that it subscribes to the values associated with good governance, transparency and human rights and that its people respect law and order.
The Government has a duty to create the necessary environment and protection to icons of good societal behaviour at least on par with the protection afforded to the several political personalities.

– Daily Mirrior Financial Times – 3 October 2008

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Weliamuna (m), aged 47, human rights lawyer
Posted on October 3, 2008 by FMM
https://freemediasrilanka.wordpress.com
Human rights lawyer J.C Weliamuna and his family survived a grenade attack on their home in the capital, Colombo, on 27 September. He has since gone into hiding, as he remains at risk of further attack.
The grenade attack came at 11.40pm as J. C. Weliamuna, his wife and two sons, aged four months and two years, were asleep. The grenade exploded on the balcony of their bedroom though luckily they were not harmed. However, the explosion caused extensive damage to their home. Police found a second, unexploded grenade in the compound of the house and which they managed to defuse.
J.C. Weliamuna is the head of the Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International, an international NGO which campaigns against government corruption. On 23 September, the NGO published a report naming Sri Lanka as 92nd out of the list of 184 corrupt governments around the world. He also represents a number of citizens, who claim that state officials have violated their “fundamental human rights” under the Sri Lankan Constitution.
In September, J.C. Weliamuna had been the legal representative in a case involving serious police
malpractice which was heard by the Supreme Court. As a result, the court ordered an investigation into police intimidation and the filing of false charges against his client. At 1.30 pm on 30 September, a man forced his way into J. C. Weliamuna’s offices. He gave the name of an unknown person he claimed to be looking for. However, staff in the office believe he was really looking for J. C. Weliamuna.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
During 2008, at least 5 human rights defenders have reported receiving death threats, often in the form of threatening phone calls. The threats have been intended to stop them from speaking out on human rights issues. Attacks on journalists have included stabbings, abductions and ill- treatment as well as targeted killings. The Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prosecute any perpetrators for attacks on Human Rights Defenders in 2008. The latest attack on a prominent human rights lawyer sends a chilling message to anyone prepared to stand up and expose human rights
violations.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
– urging the Sri-Lankan authorities to protect J.C. Weliamuna and his family, who survived a grenade attack on 27 September 2008, using all measures deemed appropriate by J.C. Weliamuna himself;
-calling on the authorities to order a full and impartial investigation by a competent authority into the attack, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice, – asking them to ensure that human rights defenders are able to continue their legitimate work without fear of harassment or intimidation.
APPEALS TO:
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
Hon. Sarath N. Silva, Chief Justice
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,
Jayantha Wickramaratne, Inspector General of Police

COPIES TO:
Ambassador JALIYA WICKRAMASURIYA
Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

/ Press Releases

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