UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Michael Anthony Fernando is provided no protection even after an attempt on his life


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-08-2004
ISSUES: Human rights defenders,

Dear friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned that an attempt was made on the life of Mr. Michael Anthony Fernando when he failed to withdraw the complaints he had made against those who have violated his rights. Tony was admitted in the hospital after surviving the attempt on his life and on discharge from the hospital the authorities have failed to provide any protection to Tony. His life is in danger. Your urgent action is required to urge the local authorities to assure Michael Anthony Fernado’s safety. AHRC received a letter written by Tony today, which is posted below.

To see the 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/General/565
Up-49-2003: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2003/569/ 
UP-07-2004: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2004/603/]

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


Letter by Tony Fernando received at AHRC on 9th February 2004

9th Feb.2004

I was discharged from the hospital on 7th Feb at about 12.30 noon. From the 2nd February noon two armed police officers who has come under the instruction of the Ministry of Defense provided me with security, at the Hospital. They were there till I was discharged on 7 Feb. They brought me back home in a three-wheeler. Then they told me, that they had instructions to give protection only at the hospital and till I was brought back home. They said, there is nothing more that they can do and that if I need further protection, I should talk to higher ups and get such protection. Since then I have had no communication from the ministry of defense or any one else. I am in a completely helpless position. I cannot attend to my daily work or even help my family. I have to go from place to place looking for shelter like a fugitive. 

I know that representation has been made on my behalf to H.E. the Present who is in charge of the Ministry of Defense at the moment. Two cases, one against two prison officers at Magistrate Court and another against the same officers by way of a Fundamental Rights Application before the Supreme Court for Torturing while in prison custody have been postponed. At the Magistrate court the date was for filing of charges against the prison officers but charges had not been filed by the prosecution police officers. I feel that I am a victim of a huge conspiracy. I narrowly escaped an attempt on my life. The attempt came at the time of a long holiday and the eve of a big political event by dissolution of parliament. 

I am frightened to think of what would have happened to me if the conspirators succeeded in taking me to the van and had taken me away. There were altogether three persons in the Van, which was waiting to take me. So, far no one has been arrested on this though many statements were taken down from me. Though the UN Human Rights Committee have issued Interim Measures to the Government of Sri Lanka to take action to protect my life and my family and report to the HRC by 9th February 2004, I am completely without protection now, having to live in hiding.

I call upon everyone to intervene on my behalf to find protection for me.

Anthony Michael Emmanual Fernando (Tony Fernando)

Further information:

Tony is now in a totally helpless situation and without any protection whatsoever. He cannot go out of his house and attend work since his life is at threat. He has to keep on shifting from place to place looking for help and support. The representation made to the President, who is also in charge of the Ministry of Defense has yielded no result.

So far no one has been arrested in spite of the complaints lodged by Tony with the authorities. All that has been done was to collect statements from Tony and the action taken on the basis of these statements is yet to be known and going by the practice in Sri Lanka there are no scope for any hope.

The Government of Sri Lanka has not followed the interim directions issued by the UN Human Rights Committee and the Government has not even replied to the Committee. Even though there were special mention by the Committee regarding safety of Tony and his family, nothing was provided. Tony is now to live in hiding, moving from place to place.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urge you to intervene in the above case requesting the Government of Sri Lanka to provide adequate protection to Tony and his family and to take immediate steps to arrest the accused who tried to endanger Tony’s life.

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. President
Chandrika B. Kumaritunge
Presidential Residence, Colombo 3, SRI LANKA
Fax: +941 2 333 703

2. 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

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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 

7. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders 
c/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 9179130 
Fax: +41 22 9179006


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



Re: Michael Anthony Fernando receives no protection in spite of an attempt on his life.

I am shocked to learn that in spite of an attempt on Mr. Michael Anthony Fernando’s (Tony), life no protection what so ever is provided to him after his discharge from hospital. 

According to the information I have received, Tony Fernando was hospitalized due to the injuries he suffered in an attempt on his life on 2nd February 2004. I am aware that Tony had filed two cases before the magistrate Court and the constitutional court against the jail officers who tortured him while he was in custody. Another case is pending before the UN Human Rights Committee.

The gist of the three cases which relate to the present threats to Tony Fernando are:

– An application to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding his imprisonment on alleged contempt of court and torture at the hands of prison authorities, 
– A case against torture at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka relating to torture suffered at the hands of the prison authorities, 
– A criminal case filed by the prosecution against two prison officers regarding the torture of Tony. 

It is a bewildering situation for a person pursuing justice to be threatened for this very reason. I draw your attention to the observations made by the UN Human rights Committee on 6 November 2003 which strongly recommended to the Sri Lankan government that: 

“The authorities should diligently enquire into all cases of suspected intimidation of witnesses and establish a witness protection program in order to put an end to the climate of fear that plagues the investigation and prosecution of such cases.” (CCPR/CO/79/LKA (future) HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE Seventy-ninth session)

I urge you to take action on this issue immediately and assure the safety of Tony Fernando. I urge the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to take charge of the situation and to take immediate steps whatsoever to provide protection to Tony. I also urge the Government of Sri Lanka to direct its head of police to immediately provide unconditional protection to Tony and also to take immediate action upon Tony’s complaint and to conduct thorough investigation on the incident. I also urge you to ensure his right to pursue his complaints at legitimate forums.

Sincerely yours,


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-08-2004
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Human rights defenders,