Human rights activist briefly detained at airport

“While I was being questioned, other officers appeared to be checking from the TID head office in Colombo whether to allow me to proceed to my flight or not. They appeared to be trying to expedite the process to ensure I will not miss the flight,” he said.Fernando said that later the Attorney General’s department and TID head office has been contacted through his lawyers. He said that photocopies of his travel documents were also taken and they also appeared to examine a file they had. Human rights activist Ruki Fernando was briefly detained at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) yesterday.Fernando said that he was detained when he arrived at the airport to travel to London. “I was asked by the officer at the immigration counter to get clearance from an office I understood to be an office of the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), situated next to the immigration counters. Inside this office, I was questioned whether I have a case pending, where I was traveling, purpose of my travel, my work and personal details, including addresses and phone number, details of family members etc. An officer wrote down my answers, but I was not shown what was written and I was not asked to sign any documents,” he said. “One of my lawyers who was also traveling overseas and had cleared immigration already, was requested to come into the office I was being kept to speak to me and officers who were questioning me. But she was not allowed and had to stand outside while I was being questioned. This appeared to be a violation of recent recommendation of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to strengthen suspects access to lawyers, especially by providing access before statements are recorded” Fernando added.Fernando says finally he was informed that he was free to travel but when he asked the officer in charge what was the reason he was detained and questioned the officer pointed out that there was very limited time left for his flight and suggested he proceed to the flight rather than discuss this further and risk missing his flight. (Colombo Gazette)

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