06 March 2007
On 6 February 2007, three men - including a railway trade union activist and a journalist - were arrested days prior to a planned strike.
As clearly evidenced in recent times, detainments are used as a means of dealing with opponents. The whereabouts of hundreds of abducted men and women in the recent past still remain a mystery.
The trade unions that are being hunted represent a group of independent private and public sector unions that were in the forefront of the fight for fundamental trade union liberties. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, for instance, has complained about the suppression of the right to strike, campaigns against the declaration of Essential Services and arbitrary labour reforms.
The possibility of anti-terrorism legislation being used to suppress the fundamental rights of trade unionists is a worrying development. In view of these alarming developments, local trade unions the FTZGSEU and the HSTUA lodged complaints with the police on the 21 February, seeking protection and urging investigations against the systematic campaign of putting union activity and lives of unionists at risk.
The law enforcement authorities have hitherto failed to take constructive measures to guarantee the safety of union activists and create an atmosphere conducive to exercise fundamental trade union freedoms.
We need your help to urge the government of Sri Lanka to:
- Guarantee the safety of all trade union activists under threat and ensure an environment free of intimidation and fear which is conducive for the normal development of trade union activities.
- Investigate the complaints made by the aforesaid trade union activists to the police and take all appropriate measures necessary to ensure their safety and the free exercise of trade union activities.
- Ensure the due process of law on all acts of alleged threats, intimidations and union repressive manoeuvres and take appropriate and timely measure against all offenders disregarding their political and other influences.
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