IPU adopts unanimous decision on the unlawful arrest of MP Rishad Bathiudeen

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Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen
Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the largest international organization of national Parliaments with a membership of 179 national Parliaments and 13 regional parliamentary assemblies, which investigated the arrest and detention of Vanni District Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen issued its decision on the matter December 16.

The IPU is concerned that MP Rishad Bathiudeen has been detained for 6 months under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. IPU calls on the authorities to either charge MP Rishad Bathiudeen, if credible evidence is available, or to drop the case.

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

  1. Notes that the complaint concerning Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen is admissible, considering that the complaint: (i) was submitted in due form by a qualified complainant under Section I.1.(a) of the Procedure for the examination and treatment of complaints (Annex I of the Revised Rules and Practices of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians); (ii) concerns an incumbent member of parliament at the time of the alleged facts; and (iii) concerns allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention, lack of due process in proceedings against parliamentarians, and violation of freedom of opinion and expression, which are allegations that fall within the Committee’s mandate.
  2. Thanks the Secretary General of the Sri Lankan Parliament for his communication and cooperation;
  3. Is concerned that Mr. Bathiudeen was detained for six months under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979, in the absence of the prompt processing of his Fundamental Rights Application;
  4. Is also concerned that no official information has been made available to show on what concrete factual basis Mr. Bathiudeen is considered a suspect in the investigation, which may only give weight to the statement by the complainant that there is in fact no case against him;
  5. Calls on the competent authorities, therefore, to either swiftly charge Mr. Bathiudeen, if solid and credible evidence is available, or to abandon the case against him; and wishes to receive specific information on this point;

A complaint filed on behalf of Bathiudeen in May following his arrest on 24th of April 2021 was investigated vigorously by the IPU. The decision on the matter was discussed and adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 208th session on 30th November 2021 in Madrid.

Bathiudeen was arrested on charges of aiding and abetting the Easter attacks during his tenure as Minister of Industry and Commerce, but no evidence has been made public to this day. The particular allegation states that Colossus (Pvt) Ltd, owned by Inshaf Ahamed, who bombed the Cinnamon Grand, had attempted to acquire an export license from the IDB. No involvement of Bathiudeen had been noted in the investigations stated IPU in its report.

The IPU took many factors into consideration including the nature of the arrest, the nature of the allegations and the subsequent developments in the case.

The IPU expressed concerns that Bathiudeen was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the absence of prompt processing of his fundamental rights application filed at the Supreme Court with the recusal of four Judges from hearing the case. The IPU also expressed concerns that no official information was made available to show that any concrete evidence existed to make Bathiudeen a suspect although he was granted bail by the Forts Magistrate Court following around 06 months from his arrest.

They also expressed deep concern that the PTA is still in operation in its present form without amendment or abolition. The United Nations monitoring bodies have repeatedly expressed grave concerns in respect of the PTA, and the Sri Lankan authorities had also expressed their commitment towards such amendments, but no move had been made to amend or abolish the PTA thus far.

The IPU called on the Sri Lankan Government to notify them of any moves to amend or abolish the PTA if any progress had been achieved. The organization also requested the Government to notify them of any credible evidence against Bathiudeen, if any existed. The IPU Governing Council further requested the Secretary General to notify all Parliamentary and prosecuting authorities of this decision marked LKA-77. The IPU Committee will continue examining the case and make further reports in due course. (LankaXpress.com)

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