Shakthika Sathkumara, an award-winning Sri Lankan writer, was arrested on 1 April 2019 for writing a short story and sharing it on his Facebook profile. While he was released on bail by the High Court on 5 August, after spending four months in prison, the charges against him are still pending and he could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Detained for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, Shakthika Sathkumara is a prisoner of conscience and all charges against him should be immediately and unconditionally dropped.
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Attorney General Mr. Dappula de Livera
Attorney General’s Department
Fax: +94 112 436421
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Rodney Perera
Embassy of Sri Lanka
3025 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 483 4025 I Fax: 202 232 7181
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Mr de Livera,
I am deeply concerned about the charges against award winning Sri Lankan writer Shakthika Sathkumara for simply writing, and sharing, a short story. Under Section 3(1) of ICCPR Act and Art. 291(B) of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka, he faces ten years in prison.
While it is a relief that Shakthika Sathkumara was granted bail by Kurunegala High Court on 5 August 2019, he is still at risk of indictment until the charges are dropped. A prisoner of conscience, he should have never spent a day in prison solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
The misuse of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act to detain and prosecute writers for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression is a clear violation of international law as well as infringement of the right to freedom of thought and expression guaranteed by the constitution of Sri Lanka. The very law that is meant to protect people’s human rights in Sri Lanka, including freedom of expression, is now being misused to violate them.
I urge you to drop all charges against Shakthika Sathkumara and order his immediate and unconditional release. Also, I appeal the Sri Lankan authorities to stop using ICCPR Act to threaten, harass and prosecute writers and activists for peacefully expressing their opinions.