SRI LANKA: Whereabouts of a man is unknown after arbitrary arrest


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-049-2008
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Enforced disappearances and abductions,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that four police officers from the Wanathawilluwa Police Station arrested a farmer from his house and took him away during the night of 28 February 2008. Since then, his family members have searched for him but his whereabouts remain unknown.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the affidavit of the victim’s wife Thambi Marikar Jainithul Nowufira)

Mr. Pitchchai Thambi Marikar Faiz, returned to Sri Lanka after working in the Middle East for about one and half years. He lives with his family in his village of Wanathawilluwa and works as a farmer. Faiz owns a gun for the protection of his harvest and holds license no. D 790957 issued by the Government for his gun bearing no B12.

At about 11:30pm on 28 February 2008, Faiz’ family members heard someone was shouting Faiz’s name outside the house. Faiz’ wife asked them who they were and was told that they were from the police and to open the door. When she opened the door, a police officer in uniform and two others in civilian clothes forcibly entered the house. One officer in civilian dress pulled Faiz up and told him to dress and accompany them with his Identity Card. Faiz did so. Faiz’s wife asked them where they were taking him and the officer in uniform told her that they were taking him to the Wanathawilluwa Police Station. They took him in a white van without a number plate.

At 6am on following day, on February 29, Mr. K.M. Samsudeen (Faiz’ brother-in-law) went to the police station and had seen the white van parked near the station, with Faiz inside. Then the police officer shouted at Samsudeen not to interfere and also not to come back. He then took his identity card too. Faiz’s wife too had gone to the Puttalam Police Station in search of her husband. While she was away from their home, a man in civilian clothes who identified himself as being from the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) went to their house and made inquiries from the children about the weapon Faiz owned.

On March 3, Faiz’ younger brother went to the police station and inquired about him. Then the police told him that they had sent Faiz to Colombo as he has had connections with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The officer further told him to surrender the gun to the police station.

On following day, March 4, Faiz’s brother handed over the gun bearing No, B12 along with the license No, D 790957 and recorded it in the Police Information Book. This entry was given as no. RIB/112/317. At this time the members of Faiz’s family informed the National Human Rights Commission over the phone about the incident.

On March 6, Faiz’s wife and two brothers went to the Wanathawilluwa Police Station to lodge an entry. However a police officer bearing badge No. 55108 told them that it was no use in making an entry there and told them to inquire at Colombo Fort Police Station. They then made inquiries from that station but the officers told them they did not know anything about it.

Faiz’ family says that Faiz is an innocent man and he does not have any connections with LTTE. He is the only bread winner in the family and the family cannot survive without him.


Disappearances are common in Sri Lanka. Especially a white van without number plate is one of features of these kinds of abductions which mostly result in disappearance not only in these days but also in the period from 1989 to 1991 when at about 30,000 people disappeared.

This case also illustrates how difficult for a person to find his or her beloved family member once the police take him or her away. In most cases of disappearances, the relatives are not informed of the identity of the police who take the person away. Even though the police identify themselves as the particular police station, when the family members go to the station, they hardly find any trace of the person. The police do not inform them as to where they have taken the person. The procedures  of the Criminal Procedure Code of Sri Lanka in these situations are not complied with.

The AHRC has earlier reported several lists of persons in recent months who have been victims of these continuing killings and disappearances; UP-166-2007, UP-162-2007, UP-157-2007, UP-151-2007, UA-318-2007, UP-123-2007, UP-117-2007, UP-061-2007 and UA-113-2007.

Please also see the statements concerning the continuing incidents of violent abductions and forced disappearances: AS-285-2007, AS-245-2007, AS-216-2007, AS-214-2007, AS-082-2007, AS-027-2007 and AS-025-2007.

Several cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances cases have been reported, yet the government has so far failed to prosecute those responsible. Human Rights Watch has also expressed concerns over the disappearances in Sri Lanka. (See further: AHRC-FST-019-2008)

Please write letters to the relevant authorities to investigate into this illegal arrest and abduction and to provide information about the victim’s whereabouts.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance calling for their intervention in this case.

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


Dear __________,

SRI LANKA : Whereabouts of a farmer is unknown after arbitrary arrest

Details of victim: Mr. Pitchchai Thambi Marikar Faiz, farmer, father of four children; residing at 19/1-Karatheu,Ponparappi, Puttalam; police officers from the Wanathawilluwa police arbitrarily arrested him and took him away at 11:30pm on 28 February 2008; since then, his whereabouts is unknown
Name of alleged perpetrators: four police officers from the Wanathawilluwa police, Wanathawilluwa Dist., Chilaw Division, North Western Range

I am writing to voice my deep concern at the case of Mr. Faiz whose whereabouts are currently unknown after he was taken away on 28 February 2008.

According to the information I have received, four police from Wanathawilluwa Police Station allegedly arbitrarily arrested him from his house and took him away in a white van without number plate at night on 28 February 2008. When Mr. K.M. Samsudeen, Faiz’s brother-in-law went to the police station on following day, he witnessed Faiz inside the white van near the police station.

Upon inquiry by the family members, one police officer told that Faiz was taken to the Colombo Fort Police Station however when the family members contacted, they failed to get any information on Faiz’s location.

This case shows that how difficult for a person to find his or her beloved family member once the police take him or her away. I am informed that in most case of disappearance, the relatives are not informed of the identity of the police who take the person away. Even though the police identify themselves as the particular police station, when the family members go to the station, they hardly find the trace of the person due to the police denial. The police do not inform them of the  place where they take the person away. This shows us that the Sri Lanka police do not seem to follow the basic criminal procedure laws of the country.

In light of above, I strongly urge you to locate his whereabouts as a matter of priority and to make sure of his safety. I urge that all process of the police investigation be informed to the family members. I further urge that a thorough and impartial investigation be conducted against those responsible Most of these alleged abductions result in disappearances.

I also take this opportunity to ask that more attention to be paid to adhering to basic criminal procedure laws in Sri Lanka. Where police officers are responsible for repeated and flagrant violations of the basic provisions of law in handling cases such as this, it makes a mockery of the entire legal process and all but eliminates the possibility of any kind of fair judicial inquiries or legal redress for victims of abuses. If even the domestic law cannot be properly enforced, then there can be few if any expectations that Sri Lanka can ever comply with international standards.

Yours sincerely,



1. Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse
Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
C/- Office of the President
Temple Trees
150, Galle Road
Colombo 3
Fax: +94 11 2472100 / +94 11 2446657

2. Mr. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
Prime Minister
Temple Trees
Galle Road, Colombo 03
Tel: +94 11 2 575317-8 or 370 737-8
Fax: +94 11 2 575454

3. Hon. Amarasiri Dodangoda, MP
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms
Superior Courts Complex,
Colombo 12
Tel: 94 11 2384837, 2324681, 2392932
Fax: 94 11 2325354 / 2445446

4. Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mnistry of Foreign Affairs
Republic Building, Colombo 01,
Sri Lanka
Tel: +94-11-2325371 / 5
Fax: +94-11-2446091

5. Secretary
Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order
15/5, Baladaksha Mawatha,
Colombo 03,
Tel: 94-11 2 430860-9, 430878-9 or 435879 (for the secretary)
Fax: 94 11 2 446300 or 421529

6. Mr. Victor Perera
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
Fax: +94 11 2 440440/327877

7. Mr. Neville Piyadigama
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers,
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867

8. Mr. C.R. De Silva
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
Fax: +94 11 2 436421

9. Secretary
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission ( 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-049-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Enforced disappearances and abductions,