EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 37/07/95
This is a limited action. Please restrict appeals to 20 per Section.
UA 103/95 Fear of torture / Fear of "disappearance" 28 April 1995
SRI LANKA Selvanayagam Rasanayagam, aged 32
Selvanayagam Rasanayagam, a tractor driver and labourer from Periyakulam,
Trincomalee District was taken into custody by soldiers on 20 April 1995 while
he was working in the village. Witnesses say they saw him being taken into
the Periyakulam Army Camp.
Since his arrest, his relatives have repeatedly inquired at the camp but have
been told he is not detained there. They have filed a complaint with the Human
Rights Task Force. To date, army authorities continue to deny he is in their
Amnesty International is concerned at reports of arbitrary arrests of hundreds
of Tamil people in Colombo, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Vavuniya and Kandy. These
arrests are taking place in the aftermath of several incidents in the northeast
of the country in which members of the security forces were killed by members
of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after the LTTE on 18 April called
an end to the truce in force since 8 January 1995.
On 19 April, 12 navy personnel were reportedly killed when members of the LTTE
bombed two navy gunboats in Trincomalee harbour. In the following days, police
and army arrested at least 25 young Tamil men in the area. More than 1,000
arrests were also reported from other parts of the country. Most of those
arrested are reportedly released within 24 hours.
Amnesty International is concerned about the safety of those detained as there
currently is no independent organization with powers to monitor and safeguard
the welfare of detainees held under the emergency regulations or the Prevention
of Terrorism Act. Current emergency regulations no longer incorporate the
requirement that arrests under ER 18 must be reported "forthwith" to the Human
Rights Task Force (HRTF), set up in August 1991 under the Emergency Regulations
"to monitor the observance of fundamental rights of detainees". This provision
had been introduced in June 1993 but was removed from the regulations when
they were revised in September 1994. The status of the HRTF itself is unclear
as the emergency regulations under which it was created lapsed in July 1994.
However, it continues to function under the Sri Lanka Foundation Law.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- calling for a full, impartial investigation to establish the whereabouts
of Selvanayagam Rasanayagam, who was arrested at Periyakulam, Trincomalee
District on 20 April 1995; asking to be informed of the results;
- seeking assurances that he is being humanely treated and urging that he be
given regular access to his relatives;
- urging that he be released unless charged with a recognizably criminal offence;
- urging that the requirement that arrests should be forthwith reported to
the HRTF be reintroduced as a matter of urgency and that HRTF be given access
to all places of detention.