UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Michael Anthony Fernando attacked


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-07-2004
ISSUES: Human rights defenders,

Dear friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has just learned that there was an attempt on the life of Mr. Michael Anthony Emanuel Fernando (Tony) early this morning (2 February 2004).

Mr. Fernando went to see a friend on the main road Kalubowila Hospital Road. As his friend was not there he went to see another, when a bearded person appeared and held a handkerchief to his face. Tony felt dizzy and ran to a tailor shop that he knew, where he collapsed. Someone from the Tailoring shop informed Tony’s father and his father took him to the hospital. He was immediately taken care of by the doctors and is now recovering.

AHRC condemns this attack on Tony’s life, and calls for your urgent intervention in this case.

To see previous urgent appeals regarding Michael Anthony Fernando’s case, please visit:

UA-09-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/408/
UP-14-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/422/
UP-19-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/452/
UP-26-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/486/
UP-45-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/565/
UP-49-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/569/

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


Mr. Fernando has filed several cases of human rights violations by several prison guards who had tortured him while he was in the custody of the prison authorities after being sentenced to a term of one years imprisonment on the basis of alleged contempt of court. Mr. Fernando has also filed a communication before the United Nations Human Rights Committee challenging the validity of the Supreme Court Judgement as having no basis in law and as a violation of his fundamental rights. Former Special Rapporteur for the independence of the Judiciary and Lawyers, Dato Param Curamarswarmy publicly denounced the judgement of the Supreme Court as an “act of injustice” done by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

Many requests for pardon on the basis of a compromise of his accepting guilt for contempt of court was rejected by Mr. Fernando who served his full term in prison. On his return from prison he received several death threats about which he complained to the local authorities as well as to the UN Human Rights Committee. On 9 January 2004 the UN Human Rights Committee in pursuant of Rule 86 of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure made a request to the Sri Lankan government:

  1. to adopt all necessary measures to protect the life, safety and personal integrity of the author and his family members, so as to avoid irreparable damage to them and;
  2. to inform the Committee on the measures taken by the State party in compliance with the decision within 30 days from the date of this Note Verbale, that is no later than 9 February 2004.

[United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Reference: G/SO 215/51 SRI (7)

KF 1189/2003]

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns this attack on Mr. Fernando as a blatant violation of his rights. The failure of the Sri Lankan government to take action on the basis of the special request made by the UN Human Rights Committee is quite appalling and is in blatant violation of Sri Lanka’s obligations as a state party to the ICCPR and signatory to the Special Protocol. The government and the state authorities have failed to pay any heed to the many thousands of calls for protection of the life of Mr. Fernando and also the final call by the UN Human Rights Committee itself. The Asian Human Rights Commission calls for a thorough inquiry into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government in terms of Rule 86 of the UN Human Rights Committee’s Rules of Procedure and calls for the international community to cooperate in making the Sri Lankan government accountable under the international obligations of the ICCPR. Furthermore, we also call upon the Sri Lankan government itself to investigate this matter thoroughly and to arrest and prosecute the offenders, provide due medical care and compensation for Mr. Fernando and to provide the utmost protection to Mr. Fernando and his family.

Please send a letter, fax or email to the local authorities and urge them to take an appropriate action to assure the safety of Michael Anthony Fernando. 

1. Hon. Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe 
Prime Minister 
Cambridge Place, Colombo 7 
Fax: +94 11 2 682905 / 575454
E-mail: secpm@sltnet.lk or bradmanw@slt.lk

2. Hon. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan 
Attorney General 
Attorney General’s Department 
Colombo 12 
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421 
Email: attorney@sri.lanka.net or counsel@sri.lanka.net

3. Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya PC 
Chairman National Police Commission 
69-1 Ward Place, Colombo 7 
Sri Lanka 
Fax: +94 11 2 669 128 (need to ask to change to fax mode) / 691 926 
Fax HOME: +94 11 2 674148

4. Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
National 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 
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

5. Mr. Theo C. van Boven 
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture 
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917-9016 

6. Mr. Leandro Despouy 
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson, Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
Tel: +41 22 9179130 
Fax: +41 22 9179006 

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



I am writing this to inform you that Mr. Michael Anthony Emanuel Fernando, whose case I am sure is well known to you, was today attacked by someone with gas and has been admitted to the Kalubowila Hospital. According to his wife, Mr. Fernando is in an unconscious state and the doctors are trying to revive him. I draw your attention to the request made by the United Nations Human Rights Committee on 9 January, to the Sri Lankan government to provide protection for the life of Mr. Fernando. Mr. Fernando has on several occasions complained about serious threats to his life due to the complaints of human rights violations he has made to Sri Lankan courts as well as to the UN Human rights Committee.

I am writing you to urge that all urgent actions be taken to safeguard the life of Mr. Michael Anthony Emanuel Fernando and to guarantee all medical treatment despite the strike by hospital staff that is currently taking place. I urge you to regard this attack as one of the gravest violations of Mr. Fernando’s human rights. He has been constantly attacked despite the many pleas he has made for protection and this latest attack is also a violation of the treaty obligations of Sri Lanka as a state party to the ICCPR. That this action has taken place despite the special request made by the United Nations Human Rights Committee clearly shows that there has been no attempt to provide such protection to Mr. Fernando. I urge you to take all appropriate measures to cause the arrest of the offenders and to ensure due process of law. I also request the utmost protection to him and his family.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-07-2004
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Human rights defenders,