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Disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda: NHRC refuses to summon Mohan Peiris


In a surprising development the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has informed Sandya Ekneligoda , the wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda not to make any more requests on the statement made by former AG Mohan Peiris’s to UN Committee Against Torture that Prageeth Ekneligoda is living in a foreign country as a political refugee.

Chairmen of the NHRC has informed in writing  that inquiries are not carried out based on advice given by various parties and hence she should not make any more requests on the said statement.

It seems that request made by the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, to Mohan Peiris, requesting an affidavit on his statement has been refused and the Chairman has decided to close the shop!

Ms. Ekneligida accuses the Chairmen of the NHRC of  tormenting her and her two children by aiding Mohan Peiris in concealing information about her husband.

The letter follows:

Sandya Priyangani Ekneligoda
136/2, Suhada Mawatha,

Judge (retired) Priyantha Perera,
Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission,
165, Kynsey Road,
Colombo 08

Dear Sir,

RE : HRC complaint no. 369/2010 and the statement made by Mohan Peiris to the UN CAT committee regarding the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda.

I, the wife of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda who disappeared on 24th January 2010, have summarized your institution’s involvement in my complaint HRC 369/2010, which I made on 2010-02-02, as follows.

1. 2nd Feb. 2010: Made a complaint to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (The
officer present at the time did not accept the complaint immediately, and only accepted after some arguments)

2. 8th Feb. 2010: The Homagama Police Headquarters Inspector (HQI) and I were asked to be present for an inquiry but he was absent. My preliminary evidence was recorded.

3. 12th Feb. 2010:The Homagama HQI and I participated in the Inquiry at Human Rights Commission

4. 15th Feb. 2010: Mr. Janaka and I attended an inquiry at the Nugegoda Headquarters Police – Special Investigations Unit

5. 3rd March 2010 and 16th March 2010: Receipt of summons to me and Thalangama Headquarters Police

6. 16th March 2010: The Thalangama HQI Police Investigator and I were requested to be present at an inquiry. The HQI didn’t come and was represented by another officer.

7. 9th August 2011: I made a request in writing for an opportunity to discuss the inquiry with you. (A response is yet to be received.)

8. 30th Nov. 2011: In order to find out the whereabouts of Prageeth Ekneligoda, I requested, in writing, an inquiry into the statement made by Legal Advisor to the Cabinet and former Attorney General Mohan Peiris to the UN Comittee Against Torture in Geneva, on 9th Nov. 2011 (That Prageeth Ekneligoda is…..he has taken refuge in a foreign country). A response is yet to be received.

9. 3rd Jan. 2012: I made the same request (in writing) that I made on 30th Nov. 2011 for Mohan Peiris to be brought before the Human Rights Commission.

10. 27th Jan. 2012: I received by post a copy of the letter written by the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, to Mohan Peiris, requesting an affidavit.

11. 9th Feb. 2012: I again made a request in writing, to bring Mohan Peiris before the Human Rights Commission, examine evidence he has and find out the whereabouts of Prageeth Ekneligoda.

12. 15th Feb. 2012: I received a letter from you notifying me that inquiries are not carried out based on advice given by various parties and hence I should not make any more requests.

My previous experiences with the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission in relation to how they deal with inquiries, is by bringing both concerned parties to the table. Your Inquiry Officer Mr. Faumi will give evidence on this.

Although you held inquiries with the Police Officers in Charge by summoning them to the NHRC, you didn’t want to summon Mohan Peiris, who had publicly stated that he has evidence that Prageeth Ekneligoda is alive, on the grounds that the NHRC does not carry out inquiries based on the advice given by other parties.

I have heard that you had made statements to the effect that you will actively investigate even if a newspaper reports a violation of human rights.

However, it is my experience that you have not paid attention statements and articles published in relation to the disappearance of my husband.

Prageeth is only one of the hundreds and thousands of people who have disappeared in Sri Lanka. This is only one complaint. However, it is only in Prageeth’s case where we have heard responsible individuals, stating to a respectable UN committee, that he is living in another country. Hence I cannot give up my search for Prageeth.

There are many questions about the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission. I would like to bring 2 of those problems, to your attention.

1. On 27th Jan. 2012, a letter had been sent to Mohan Peiris requesting an affidavit with regard to the statement made by him. 100 days have passed since the day you requested the affidavit. If he has provided you with the affidavit, I kindly ask you to inform me and my two children about it.

2. I believed that the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, helps victims of human rights violations, like us, to find the people who have disappeared even without charging fees for lawyers; and that it was an institution that stood up for justice. However, for the complaint I made as a victim, the response given to me by the Chairman, was that the NHRC does not carry out inquiries based on the advice given by other parties and therefore not to make such requests in the future. If this is so, I kindly ask you to tell me, which institution I/we should go to in the event of a human rights violation.

Although torturing someone in a torture chamber is brutal, things can be made better with the aid of medicine. But mentally torturing someone can scar them for life, as it continues to haunt them, day and night. What is sad though is that, since there are no physical scars on the body, society fails to see the agony of the victim. The best example for this is the statement made by Douglas Wickramaratne on 19th March 2012 that I wasn’t a victim because I had smiled, when I was participating in a “side event” in Geneva.

By concealing information about my husband, former Attorney General and Legal Advisor to the Cabinet, Mohan Peiris is tormenting me and my children in public.

On countless occasions my ailing heart feels that the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission along with the other officers are aiding Mohan Peiris in mentally tormenting me and my two children.

Thank you.
Yours Sincerely
Sandya Ekneligoda


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