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Home > Human Rights > Sri Lanka: Breakdown of Law and Order

Sri Lanka: Breakdown of Law and Order

Media Release by Women’s Organisations and Networks

by, 6 October 2008

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A number of concerned women’s groups and networks join other organisations and individuals who have condemned the recent grenade attack on the residence of Mr. J.C Weliamuna the well known and respected human rights lawyer.

Women’s organisations have in the past, drawn the attention of the
Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Development and the National
Committee on Women to acts of violence against women and children
committed with impunity by armed persons in various parts of the country,
including the North and East. We have in particular highlighted the
failure to monitor and implement the Presidential Guidelines that seek to
prevent abuse of authority.

The grenade attack on the Weliamuna residence took place at night,
traumatizing his two infant children. The attack followed Mr. Weliamuna’s
professional involvement in two cases on police torture and bribery, and
the gunning down of his client in the presence of the client’s 11 year old
child. Despite the public outcry on the attack against Mr. Weliamuna,
unidentified persons later attempted to force their way into his office,
and escaped on a motor bicycle.

In the last few days the press has also reported an assault by army
personnel on a doctor at the Ragama Hospital who made a police complaint
regarding a drug crime. A woman doctor who had also filed a case of
criminal intimidation was gunned down by the accused, a soldier alleged to
be from the Embilipitya army camp. These incidents are all symptomatic of
a dangerous breakdown of law and order, and the incapacity of the
government and law enforcement authorities to protect men, women and
children in all parts of the country from criminal acts of violence,
perpetrated through a perceived sense of power and impunity.

It is time for the President and the Ministers specifically entrusted with
law enforcement and the protection of human rights to inform the public of
the specific measures that they have taken as well as put in place. It is
their responsibility to ensure that there is no impunity for criminal acts
committed by members of the police and armed forces, and gunmen who move around easily with their weapons. Mere condemnation of these acts and promises of investigation are no longer acceptable. It is in times of
conflict and military offensives that specific measures are vital to
prevent impunity, enforce discipline and ensure public confidence in the
rule of law. Everyone in the police and the army must be held accountable
for protecting the life, liberty and property of civilians, men, women and
children in the community.

Endorsing Organisations

1. Centre for Women’s Research (CENWOR)
- 2. Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum (MWRAF)
- 3. Women’s Education and Research Centre (WERC)
- 4. Academy of Adult Education for Women
- 5. Women and Media Collective (WMC)
- 6. Women in Need (WIN)
- 7. Agromart
- 8. Kantha Handa/Voice of Women
- 9. Kantha Shakthi
- 10. Women’s Centre, Ja-Ela
- 11. Siyath
- 12. Wilpotha Kantha Ithurum Parishramaya
- 13. Sri Lanka Muslim Women’s Conference (SLMWC)
- 14. Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum
- 15. Action Network for Migrant Workers (ACTFORM)
- 16. Suriya Women’s Development Centre (SWDC)
- 17. Women’s Development Centre, Kandy
- 18. Uva Wellassa Farmer Women’s Organization
- 19. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka (MDL)
- 20. Community Encouragement Foundation, Puttlum
- 21. Women’s Resource Centre, Kurunegala
- 22. Women’s Support Group
- 23. Women’s Development Centre, Kurunegala
- 24. Dabindu Collective, Katunayake
- 25. Women’s Development Centre, Badulla
- 26. Association of War Affected Women
- 27. Devasarana Independent Women’s Action Committee, Kurunegala
- 28. Binthenna Women’s Front
- 29. Community Education Centre, Malabe
- 30. Sunile Women’s Centre, Welikanda