We feel Gen. (Ret) Sarath Fonseka’s incarceration is illegal, and goes against all that Sri Lanka should achieve as a democratic nation.
President Mahinda Rajapakse over the past 6 years has systematically eroded the democratic fabric of Sri Lanka by usurping the powers of the judiciary, law enforcement branches and other key bodies, through politicizing the organs of a democratic system, and through his refusal to implement the 17th amendment to the Constitution.
The manner in which Gen Fonseka was charged and sentenced goes against the norms and previous practices of the law of Sri Lanka. His abduction and incarceration, following his bid for Presidency , perfectly illustrate the erosion of the rule of law, and the systemic and violent silencing of political opposition in Sri Lanka.
Response to Petition
By Michael H. Posner
The United States has been following the case of General Sarath Fonseka closely since he was first detained in February 2010, shortly after the presidential election. Fonseka was convicted in November 2011 on incitement of violence charges, arising out of allegations he purportedly made to the press in 2009 that Defense Secretary Rajapaksa had ordered surrendering cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) be shot. Fonseka had been the main opposition presidential candidate prior to his detention.
More broadly, we are closely following issues that affect the protection of human rights and transparent, democratic processes in Sri Lanka. We strongly encourage the strengthening of checks and balances in Sri Lanka, consistent with the principles of a constitutional democracy.
At the request of Congress, the Department of State prepares annual country reports on human rights practices. In the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 report on Sri Lanka, Sarath Fonseka is described as a political prisoner. Despite important outstanding questions about the manner in which the war against the LTTE was prosecuted by forces under the direction of General Fonseka and his political superiors, we share your concerns about the judicial processes used to try and convict him and the wider implications his prosecution has on freedom of expression and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.
We continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to respect the universal right of all its citizens to express themselves freely, and without fear of retribution. We also call on the Government of Sri Lanka to promote the principles of good governance, transparency, justice, democracy, and independent state institutions.
Thank you for signing this petition and your continued interest in Sri Lanka.
Michael H. Posner is Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the Department of State