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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM
21 March 2003
UP-13-2003 (UA-09-2003: Human rights defender tortured and denied fundamental right to a fair hearing)
UPDATE (SRI LANKA): Please Sign the Online Petition to support Michael Anthoney Emmanuel Fernando (Tony)
A local solidarity group for Mr. Michael Anthony Emmanuel Fernando (aka Tony) in Sri Lanka has launched a petition for release of him. AHRC has launched a petition on behalf of Tony on 21 March 2003. When you sign this petition on line, your name will be added to the list of signatories and the following petition will be automatically sent to the president and prime minister of Sri Lanka.
Petition to Her Excellency the President Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe
All of us who are signatories to this document have decided to make a collective appeal to you two in order to invite your early attention to the sad plight of Michael Antony Emmanuel Fernando (Tony) who has been subjected to a cruel assault after being sentenced to one year??s prison term and being sent to prison, and is undergoing medical treatment at the general hospital, Colombo, and for the purpose of getting justice done without delay.
The view of Mr. Dato Param Coomaraswamy, UN rapporteur on the independence of the judiciary the international institutions like the Article 19 and the Asian Human Rights Commission is that the manner in which this person has been treated is not only unjust but is also illegal. We regret that, although a large number of international organizations have requested the government of Sri Lanka to take action to release him, that reasonable request has not been complied with so far.
This person came to the judiciary with the intention of going back home. He has been subjected to unbearable mental shock by the fact that he has not only been sentenced to one year??s imprisonment, but he has been subjected to cruel assault after he went to prison. There is also the danger of his becoming a mental patient if no action is taken to release him immediately. In the circumstances, all of us who are signatories to this document appeal to the two of you to take action to release this person without torturing him any further.
To sign the petition on line, visit:
To sign the petition by e-mail, please send the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Organisation (if any):
Background of the Case of Michael Anthony Emmanuel Fernando (Tony)
A brief statement of Tony??s case, which UN Rappoteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Dato Param Cumaraswamy described as "shocking and stunning", is as follows:
Tony filed a fundamental rights application before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and supported it by himself. He also filed a motion objecting to some judges hearing his case. At the hearing of the objections, one of the judges Tony had objected to, accused Tony of contempt of court. Tony was imprisoned for one year for contempt of court, which the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has described as "an act of injustice done by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka."
Thereafter he was severely assaulted while he was in prison custody. The news of this incident provoked outrage locally and internationally. As a result, the government ordered an investigation and was satisfied that such an assault had taken place. On that basis two prison officers were arrested and a case filed against them. The arrest of the officers provoked a strike by prison officers throughout the country. The government had to intervene to stop the strike.
A fundamental rights violation petition has been filed on Mr. Fernando's behalf, in which the two prison officers who allegedly assaulted him, the head of the prison and the prison commissioner are the respondents.
Meanwhile Mr. Fernando's mental condition has deteriorated and he was thus taken for treatment. His family confirms that his situation is not normal.
*** Please send a copy of your letter to AHRC Urgent Appeals:
Fax: +(852) - 26986367
Please contact the Urgent Appeals coordinator if you require more
information or wish to report human rights violations.
AHRC Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
Unit D, 7th Floor, Mongkok Commercial Centre,
16 - 16B Argyle Street, Kowloon, HONGKONG
Tel: +(852) - 2698-6339
Fax: +(852) - 2698-6367
Please contact the AHRC Urgent Appeals Coordinator if you require
further information or to make requests for further appeals.
Posted on 2003-03-21