Extra-judicial killing of Reverend Fr M X Karunaratnam - LKA 002 / 0408 / OBS 060

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the extra-judicial killing of Reverend Fr M X Karunaratnam, a Catholic priest as well as the founder and Chairperson of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR), operating in the areas administered by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Sri Lanka.

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on April 20, 2008, after presiding over Sunday Mass, Reverend Fr Karunaratnam was travelling in his vehicle when he was killed by a claymore attack in Vannivilangkulam, Mallavi, within the LTTE controlled territory.

NESOHR was established in July 2004, as part of the Norwegian-facilitated 2002 Peace Process to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the Northeast of Sri Lanka, and Rev. Fr. Karunaratnam worked tirelessly to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the Northeast of Sri Lanka and sought to publicise the human rights violations to which the people living in the northeast, particularly the Wanni region, were subjected to. He also actively involved himself in providing psychological counselling to people affected by the war and the tsunami.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about Reverend Fr M X Karunaratnam’s assassination, which illustrates once more the situation of extreme insecurity faced by human rights defenders in Sri Lanka, especially since the intensification of the conflict in July 2006 and the end of the 2002 ceasefire agreement between the Government and the LTTE, which was called of on January 2, 2008 by the Government.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Sri Lanka asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all Sri Lankan human rights defenders;

ii. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Reverend Fr M X Karunaratnam, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders and humanitarian workers in Sri Lanka;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", and Article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.


· President Mahinda Rajapakse, Presidential Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka, Fax: + 94 11 2446657 / +94 11 2472100.

· Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ministry of Defence, 15/5 Baladaksha Mawatha, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11 2446 300 / +94 11 2541 529

· Mr. Victor Perera, Inspector General of Police, New Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877. E-mail: igp@police.lk

· Mr. C.R. De Silva, Attorney General, Attorney General’s Department, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka, Fax: +94 11 2 436421, Email: attorney@sri.lanka.net

· National Police Commission, 3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers, 109 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka, Tel: +94 11 2 395310. Fax: +94 11 2 395867. E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk

· Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka. Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806. Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470. E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

· Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Sri Lanka, 56 rue De Moillebeau, 5th Floor, 12119 Geneva 19, Switzerland, Fax: + 41-22 734 90 84, E-mail: mission.srilanka@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brussels, 27 rue Jules Lejeune, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium. Tel: + 32 2 344 53 94/ + 32 2 344 55 85. Fax : + 32 2 344 67 37. Email : sri.lanka@euronet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Sri Lanka in your respective country.


Geneva - Paris, April 22, 2008

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

LKA 002 / 0408 / OBS 060

Extra-judicial killing

Sri Lanka

April 22, 2008

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