Bomb Attack on Human Rights Lawyer and Civic Activist indicative of a dangerous trend

Media Release/NPC

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.

Governing Council

The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organisation that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.