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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 182nd session
(Cape Town, 18 April 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Mr. Thiyagarajah Maheswaran, a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka who was assassinated on 1 January 2008, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians following the Procedure for the treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of the human rights of members of parliament,

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which contains a detailed outline of the case (CL/182/12(b)-R.1-Add.),

Considering that Mr. Maheswaran, a staunch defender of the human rights of the Tamil people and a member of the opposition United National Party, voted on 14 December 2007 against the budget and that soon after the vote the number of his security guards was cut from eighteen to two; that he had openly made several statements in and outside parliament to the effect that the reduction of his security detail put his life seriously at risk and had made repeated requests to the Government to enhance his security, to no avail,

Considering that on 1 January 2008, while attending a religious ceremony in a Hindu temple in Colombo, he was shot and succumbed to his injuries in a Colombo hospital; the attack came after he had stated in a television interview that, at the resumption of parliamentary sittings on 8 January 2008, he would present in-depth details of the terror campaign that the Government was pursuing in Jaffna, especially how abductions and killings were managed, and noting that the authorities have arrested the alleged gunman,

Considering that, at the invitation of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, the Committee carried out an on-site visit to Sri Lanka from 21 to 24 February 2008, and noting that the Committee's delegation was able fully to discharge its mandate, which was to gather as detailed information as possible from all parties concerned on the case in question,

  1. Thanks the Sri Lankan authorities for having received the mission and made the necessary arrangements to enable it to carry out its mandate; also thanks the Committee's delegation for its work and awaits with interest the mission's report and any comments on it by the parties with whom the delegation met;

  2. Condemns the murder of Mr. Maheswaran, and affirms that the string of assassinations of other high-profile and outspoken politicians which have all remained unpunished so far, confirms that impunity can only foster the recurrence of crime and that, moreover, it is a formidable deterrent for parliamentarians wishing to speak out on critical issues;

  3. Expresses deep concern at the significant reduction of Mr. Maheswaran's security detail at a critical moment and consequently fears that the authorities may bear indirect responsibility for his assassination;

  4. Notes that the gunman is at the disposal of the authorities; trusts that, on the basis of a thorough and independent investigation, court proceedings can soon start and lead to the full identification and punishment of those responsible and so fully elucidate this crime;

  5. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 119th Assembly of the IPU (Geneva, October 2008).
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