Prageeth Eknaligoda was abducted on January 24, 2010, by two former members of the intelligence services, then handed over to the army. His crime? As a political analyst and cartoonist, he regularly published drawings that were critical of the repressive regime in Sri Lanka. He was abducted two days before the presidential election at the time.
Thereafter, his family, and more particularly his wife, faced many political and judicial obstacles to re-establishing the truth about his situation, despite a strong international mobilization in his favor. Indeed, it was only five years after his disappearance, owing to a change at the presidency, that an investigation was opened. Nine suspects – members of military intelligence – were arrested but quickly released on bail.
A trial was finally opened in 2019, and the nine intelligence officers involved in his abduction were only recently remanded in custody, more than a decade after Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance. In addition, many witnesses have changed their original statements during the trial, after being pressured and threatened.
Prageeth’s wife, Sandya Eknaligoda, has also been subjected to regular harassment, intimidation and threats.
Prageeth’s case is not isolated: Sri Lanka has one of the highest numbers of enforced disappearances in the world: nearly 65,000 people during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka that ended in May 2009 alone. Subsequently, abductions of political opponents have been committed. However, investigations into the crimes committed by the Sri Lankan security forces during this period have stalled, and obstructions to justice such as those encountered by Prageeth’s family have been regularly denounced by the international community, till recently.
ACAT-France is taking action, along with his wife, for an independent and impartial investigation to establish the exact circumstances of his disappearance and to guarantee the judgment of those responsible for his disappearance.
No. 136/2, Suhada Mawatha,