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Sri Lanka : Human rights lawyer Mr Lakshan Dias subjected to threats and surveillance
On 26 February 2013, human rights defender Mr Lakshan Dias received a number of anonymous threatening phone calls. On the previous day, he was followed by a white van which he reported to police in Moratuwa, the suburb of Colombo in which he resides.
These incidents follow a series of previous threats and acts of surveillance faced by the human rights defender during recent months.
Lakshan Dias is a prominent human rights lawyer who has provided legal representation in a number of high-profile cases involving deportation and immigration, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and allegations of torture. He is also a vocal advocate of judicial independence and has provided protection to human rights defenders and journalists at risk, including by providing accompaniment.
The human rights defender is also actively involved in the anti-impeachment campaign relating to a Parliamentary Select Committee, established on 8 December 2013 to investigate and report on allegations against the 43rd Chief Justice the highest judicial official in the country. This committee found her to be guilty of three out of the five charges which it had investigated.
Since December 2012, Lakshan Dias and a number of fellow human rights lawyers in Sri Lanka, have been subjected to threats and acts of surveillance, reportedly related to their denouncing of the impeachment of the Chief Justice and their defence of the independence of the judiciary.
Front Line Defenders expresses serious concern for the security and physical and psychological integrity of Lakshan Dias, and views the above-mentioned acts as an attempt to silence the human rights lawyer and restrict his legitimate and peaceful activities, namely his defence of the independence of the judiciary and his legal assistance to victims of alleged human rights violations.