Immediately Cease Harassment and Intimidation of Sri Lankan Lawyer Lakshan Dias
The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), a civil society network of more than 300 individual and organisational members from 28 countries, urges the Sri Lankan Government to immediately cease its harrassment of renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Lakshan Dias. Following Lakshan’s comments on a Sri Lankan TV talk show titled “Aluth Parlimenthuwa (new parliament)” about documented religious attacks against Muslims and Christians citing publicly available sources, he was subsequently intimidated by President Sirisena and the Minister of Justice and Buddhasasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. Mr. Dias was threatened with being removed from the legal profession entirely, unless he immediately apologised for his comments.
As a network of refugee rights advocates, many of whom are also human rights defenders, APRRN is a strong supporter of free speech, religious freedoms, rule of law, and human rights. APRRN members are all committed to these core principles. The network also has a number of other active individual and organisational members in Sri Lanka, in addition to Mr. Dias, all working tirelessly to support refugees and other vulnerable populations. Lakshan Dias is one of APRRN’s most valued, respected and knowledgable members and is a leader in his field.
The Asia Pacific Refuge Rights Network highly values its members as they are the backbone and the driving force for the protection of refugees and other vulerable persons. Lakshan Dias has been a member of APRRN for nearly a decade and is a strong supporter of refugee rights in not only Sri Lanka but also across the entire Asia Pacific region. He has been involved in many APRRN activities over the years and is a key driver for refugee protection. The pressure placed upon him by President Sirisena and the Minister of Justice and Buddhasasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, is unacceptable and unfounded.
The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network calls upon the Sri Lankan Government to immediately take the following steps:
- Stop the harassment of Lakshan Dias and other human rights activists and legal practitioners for voicing their legitimate concerns;
- Ensure that human rights defenders such as Lakshan are free to exercise their rights to freedom of expression. There should be no fear of reprisal and no forced apologies; and
- Adhere to the obligation to deliver truth and justice to the Sri Lankan public.
Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN)
While APRRN statements are prepared in consultations with APRRN members, they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Julia Mayerhofer, Secretary General, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
Tel: +66 (0) 2 2526654
The PDF version can be accessed here.