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UA 35/91 - Sri Lanka: unacknowledged detention / "disappearance": H D Sunil Jayawardene, H D Anil Susantha, R M Nimal Ratnayake

, Index number: ASA 37/005/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 37/05/91
Distr: UA/SC
UA 35/91 Unacknowledged Detention/"Disappearance" 1 February 1991
SRI LANKA : H D Sunil Jayawardene
H D Anil Susantha
R M Nimal Ratnayake
Amnesty International has recently received reports about three people who
"disappeared" in two separate incidents in southern Sri Lanka during early
H D Sunil Jayawardene, aged 20, and H D Anil Susantha, aged 18, two brothers
from Indulgodakanda, Kurunegala District, "disappeared" following their arrest
at about 8.30pm on 6 January by a group of people dressed in black shorts and
vests who identified themselves as police. Inquiries made with the police
did not produce any information about their whereabouts.
R M Nimal Ratnayake from Utuhorampella, Minuwangoda, Gampaha District,
"disappeared" after he was arrested by a group of twelve people dressed in
civilian clothes around 7.30pm on 7 January. When his relatives made inquiries
at Minuwangoda police station, the police said they were not aware of any arrests
having been carried out. The next day, the same group apparently came back
to his home and threatened his relatives. Appeals have been sent to the Minister
of State for Defence and other authorities but so far no information about
his whereabouts has been provided.
Reports of arbitrary arrests and "disappearances" in southern Sri Lanka have
continued in the last few months, albeit at a lower level than between 1988
and early 1990. People have commonly "disappeared" after being detained by
groups of armed men in civilian clothes, who in many cases are believed to
be connected with the security forces or ruling party politicians. The victims
include people who the security forces apparently believe had some connection
with the violent opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, People's Liberation
Front). Others had been released from detention or from rehabilitation camps
shortly before they were rearrested and "disappeared". The possible reasons
for the detentions of the three people named above are not known to Amnesty
On 11 January, the government announced the establishment of a three-
member Commission of Inquiry into new cases of "disappearances", the exact
terms of reference of which Amnesty International has not yet been able to
obtain. However, it is clear that this commission will only look into cases
of "disappearances" which occur after 11 January 1991 and that it is not
empowered to investigate reports of thousands of people who "disappeared" after
arrest by security forces personnel in the period 1983-1990.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
(up to TEN appeals per section)
- expressing concern about the reported detentions and subsequent
"disappearance" of the three people named above, giving details of the name
of the victim and the place, date, time and agent of arrest;
- urging that an immediate investigation be conducted into each of these
"disappearances" to determine their place of detention;
- seeking assurances that if they are in custody, they are being humanely treated
and that they will be granted immediate and regular access to lawyers and
- urging that full, publicly available records be maintained of all persons
taken into detention and that effective steps are taken to ensure the safety
of detainees.
His Excellency President R Premadasa
Presidential Secretariat
Republic Square
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: President Premadasa, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Telexes: 22650 PRESEC CE
Faxes: + 94 1 54 6657
The Hon Ranjan Wijeratne
Minister of Plantation Industries and Minister of State for
Ministry of Defence
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: Minister Defence, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Telexes: 22229 MINDEF CE
Faxes: + 94 1 54 6091
Ernest Perera
Inspector General of Police
Sri Lanka Police Headquarters
New Secretariat
Colombia 1, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: Police Inspector General, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Bradman Weerakoon
Presidential Adviser on International Relations Presidential
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
COPIES TO: Diplomatic representatives of Sri Lanka in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 15 March 1991.

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