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2 UN Staff arrested in Sri Lanka - Taken away by plain cloth men, driving unmarked vehicle - UN Internal News Bulletin PDF Print E-mail
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Message from Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
- 23rd June 2009
Arrest of UN staff members
Dear colleagues,
You may be aware that two UN staff members went missing in Vavuniya on 11 and 12 of June. You may have heard the news from colleagues, or have seen reports in the media.
From the facts as we understand them today, the two staff members in question were taken away by plain clothes men, who did not identify themselves, and who were driving an unmarked vehicle. One UNHCR staff member was taken from his home, and the UNOPS staff member was taken the following day from a service station, where he had stopped to refuel his vehicle. The UN was not informed by the authorities, and it was only after conducting inquiries that we were able to learn informally that the staff members had in fact been taken by the Sri Lankan security services. To date, we have not been officially informed of the detention, the reasons for this detention, the allegations, if any, of charges that might have been laid against the staff members, or the location of their detention. We understand that their families have not been officially informed. Under Sri Lankan Law, Emergency Regulation 20 (9) when a person is taken into custody, a receipt should be issued to family members or accompanying person acknowledging the arrest / detention.

We have sought legal advice as to whether the manner in which these men were taken followed due process. The UN acknowledges without reservation the right of the security services of Sri Lanka to investigate any allegations of criminal wrongdoing, including by UN staff members, and will cooperate fully to support due process. However it is our position that any investigation must comply with Sri Lankan national law and be transparent.

We are in constant contact with the government over our concerns, and have issued official communiqu├ęs to the government detailing them. We are keeping our respective headquarters closely informed, as well as Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. When UN staff members are detained it is standard practice for the UN to have direct contact with such persons. We will attempt to keep you informed in a timely manner through these bulletins of these matters.

Best regards

Amin Awad

Acting Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator

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