SRI LANKA: The arrest of Mr. Udul Premarathne

(Hong Kong, October 29, 2010) Following the arrest of the student leader, Mr. Udul Premarathne, the Asian Human Rights Commission has today written to the Inspector General of Police of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Balasuriya urging him to ensure that there is no illegal use of police powers against Mr. Premarathne.

As torture is endemic in almost all police stations in the country there is the very real fear that this young man may be mistreated.

Please see below the text of the letter sent today to Mr. Balasuriya by Mr. Basil Fernando of the AHRC

Mr. Mahinda Balasuriya

Inspector General of Police

New Secretariat

Colombo 1


Dear Mr. Balasuriya,

Re: Mr. Udul Premarathne

This is to express concern over the arrest of Udul Premarathne who is reported to have been arrested this morning (October 29) on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a magistrate in Colombo. As you know, Mr. Premarathne is the convener of the Inter University Student’ Federation. As there has been several rather provocative political speeches by several members of the government through the media against this student’s federation and against the agitations by university students in general we are anxious to see the safety of Mr. Premarathne. The fear of torture after arrest is a commonly shared fear in Sri Lanka and in this instance which is charged with political overtones we are especially concerned with the safety of this young student leader.

We are not aware of what the charges are and what the evidence against Mr. Premarathne is. However, we are also afraid of the possible fabrication of charges given the political nature of the circumstances under which the arrest has taken place. There have been man political speeches telecast over the media where prominent government leaders have stated that the student activism in the universities will be brought to an end. We hope that this arrest is not motivated by such a political scheme.

We would also like to bring to your notice the telecast incident of a student of the Keliniya University who was several assaulted by a mob near the university where the police officers were watching. It is the duty of the police to arrest anyone who is engaged in the commission of a crime. However, no action was taken by these police officers. I am sure you are aware of this the newspaper editorials have already highlighted this incident today.

We kindly urge you to look into this matter so that no illegal use of the police powers will be used against Mr. Premarathne. We also request you to guarantee his safety.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Basil Fernando


Policy & Programmes

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-024-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Democracy,