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Executive director of Transparency International Sri Lanka faces imminent arrest

(FMM/IFEX) - 9 March 2010 - FMM is shocked and outraged by unofficial reports of the imminent arrest of the executive director of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), Mr. J.C. Weliamuna. If these reports are true, FMM vehemently opposes such a move and stands by Weliamuna.

In a statement issued on 9 March 2010, the Asian Human Rights Commission said that "there is a move to arrest and detain J.C. Weliamuna, the chairperson of Transparency International in Sri Lanka (TISL), on fabricated charges. During the last few weeks there have been several attempts on the part of the government to make insinuations against the Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International."

TISL is a committed institution that works towards building a corruption-free Sri Lanka. It has won credibility for its activities aimed at strengthening democracy and good governance in Sri Lanka. During the last decade TISL has monitored the abuse of state resources during elections, and campaigned against the colossal misuse of public resources in the hands of ruling politicians during elections, by publishing reports. Corruption is a cancer in all spheres of Sri Lanka's life including social, political and economic fields. TISL was actively engaged in combating corruption in all these fields.

It is no secret that there are forces and powerful individuals within the country who do not welcome such a course of action. FMM believes that whatever the pretexts used to harass and arrest Weliamuna, the aim of such a move is to discredit the anti-corruption drive and to intimidate organizations and individuals spearheading such programmes. These are the activities that government should organize and encourage instead of discourage by intimidation and harassment.

FMM notes that Weliamuna is one of the leading human rights lawyers in the country and his residence came under a grenade attack in the early hours of 8 September 2008. So far police have not produced a report on the attack.

FMM calls on the government to stop the intimidation and misinformation campaign aimed at Weliamuna and TISL and to disclose the truth behind the reports of his imminent arrest.

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