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Sri Lanka: Attack on human rights defender Mr Gunaratne Waninnayaka
On 17 December 2012, a group of four armed men carried out an attack on human rights defender Mr Gunaratne Waninnayaka, the president of the Colombo Magistrate's Court Lawyers' Association and the convenor of People's March. Gunaratne Waninnayaka is an outspoken campaigner for the independence of the judiciary.
In the morning of 17 December, Gunaratne Waninnayaka was ambushed outside his house by four unidentified persons armed with automatic weapons who had been waiting for him to return home. As he approached his home on Pirivena Road in Boralesgamuwa, he saw the armed group and managed to enter his residence in his car, enter his home and block the entrances. He was followed by the armed persons who tried to enter the house but failed. An investigative team from the police reportedly arrived at the scene later in the afternoon. It is believed that the armed group was part of an organised attack aiming to kidnap or assassinate the human rights defender.
Over the past years, Gunaratne Waninnayaka has figured prominently in campaigns to protect the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. Most recently he has been at the forefront of the campaign opposing the Sri Lanka government's move to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who was a member of the Supreme Court when it delivered an adverse ruling to the government.
On 15 December 2012, at a meeting of 3,000 members of the Bar Association, a motion was passed unanimously opposing the move as it reportedly violates the established procedures and is believed to be politically motivated.
Front Line Defenders is concerned by this attack on the human rights defender as it is believed that it was motivated solely by his peaceful and legitimate human rights work defending the independence of the judiciary.