FORWARDED APPEAL (Sri Lanka): Immediate protection needed for Mr. J.C. Weliamuna with impartial investigation for grenade attack 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward the appeal sent to the President of Sri Lanka and the president of the Bar Association by Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation based in the Netherlands on 7 October 2008. This appeal is in regard to the recent grenade attack against Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, executive director of the Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International, on 27 September 2008.

For further details of the case, please refer to AHRC-UAC-218-2008AHRC-FUA-010-2008AHRC-STM-254-2008AHRC-OLT-023-2008 and AHRC-STM-252-2008.

For further queries, please feel free to contact the office of Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation below.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Dear President,

Re: mr. J.C. Weliamuna

The Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (‘Stichting Advocaten voor Advocaten’) would like to express its grave concern about the recent attack against human rights lawyers J.C. Weliamuna.

Lawyers for Lawyers seeks to promote, throughout the world, the freedom and independence of lawyers while exercising their profession in or out of court and – in this context – to promote the principles of fair trial.

On the 27th September the house of mr. J.C. Weliamuna, a senior lawyer, came under attack when two grenades were thrown at it. One grenade exploded while the other was later discovered inside the house by the police. Mr. Weliamuna, and lawyers who are aware of the incident, believe that the attack is a result of the cases in which he has been appearing, most of which involve the government and agencies of the state.

Mr J.C. Weliamuna is the executive director of the Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International. He is also one of the best known anti-graft lawyers in the country who had been pursuing many sensitive cases. He also has a long track record of making legal representation in cases involving human rights abuses such as torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances.

The intimidation and harassment that mr. Weliamuna endured is contrary to international principles adopted by the United Nations and applicable to Sri Lanka.

The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders in 1990, provide for a number of rights and responsibilities for lawyers based on the international agreement that in the interest of fairness and equality, all individuals, including those accused or convicted of criminal activity, are entitled to unfettered legal representation.

In particular paragraphs 16 and 17 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, states that the government is obligated “to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference“.
Further: “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities“.

According to Article 11 of the 1998 U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession“. These principles are universally applicable. Therefore, your government is under an obligation to duly protect and support its lawyers and human rights defenders.

In view of the above, Lawyers for Lawyers:

– call for the Attorney General to order an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into this incident, with the results made public, and for those responsible to be brought to justice;

– urge the President and the Minister of the Interior of Sri Lanka to ensure that immediate measures are taken to guarantee the safety of mr J.C. Weliamuna and other lawyers working to protect human rights, in strict accordance with their wishes;

– reminding the authorities that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Institutions to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. Lawyers for Lawyers in confident of your good will and sense of justice and we will continue to monitor this case closely.

On behalf of the President of Lawyers for Laywers, Phon van den Biesen,



Adrie van de Streek
Executive Director

Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation
P.O. Box 7113, 1007 JC Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel: +31207171638
Fax: +31207171327


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : AHRC-FUA-011-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,