Amnesty International has sent out an urgent appeal for the protection of human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias who is reportedly under threat.
In the appeal, Amnesty says since 22 February Dias has reported being followed and has been under surveillance by unidentified men who have sought information about him from his wife and neighbors. “Colleagues are concerned that he is in danger of enforced disappearance and physical violence.
According to human rights lawyers in Sri Lanka, men on motorcycles and in a white van have been watching Lakshan Dias’ residence since 22 February, and have questioned his neighbours and family members about him, creating a climate of fear and intimidation. Lakshan Dias lodged a formal complaint with the Moratuwa Police, Colombo district, on 25 February 2013. It is not known whether the police have acted on his complaint,” the appeal by Amnesty International said.
It said that one individual who visited the neighbourhood and asked about Lakshan Dias reportedly identified himself to a neighbour as an Inspector of Police, but the Officer in Charge of the Moratuwa Police station denied knowing an Inspector by that name.
Lakshan Dias is a prominent human rights lawyer who has been active in opposing the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court in January.
Several other lawyers have received death threats for engaging in protests advocating independence of the judiciary. Judges have also been threatened and attacked.
Amnesty International says suspected enforced disappearances continue to be reported in Sri Lanka. The use of white vans has often been associated with abduction-style arrests by the Sri Lankan authorities. Torture in custody and arbitrary detention, including in secret or unofficial places of detention, has also been reported in connection with such arrests, the international human rights group said. (Colombo Gazette)