Weliamuna (m), aged 47, human rights lawyer


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.

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

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.

His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Fax:           011 94 11 2446657
Salutation: Your Excellency

Hon. Sarath N. Silva
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
Superior Courts Complex
Colombo 12
Fax:           011 94 11 2435446
Salutation: Dear Chief Justice

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
Ministry of Defense
Ministry of Defense, Public Security, Law and Order
15/5, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Colombo 03,
Fax:           011 94 11 254 1529
Salutation: Dear Minister

Jayantha Wickramaratne
Inspector General of Police
Sri Lanka Police
101/1 Kew Road
Colombo 2
Fax:           011 94 11 244 6174
Salutation: Dear Inspector General

Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
2148 Wyoming Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax:       1 202 232 7181
Email:    slembassy@slembassyusa.org