Sri Lanka releases rights activists after outcry

COLOMBO, March 19, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has released two leading rights activists after their detention under strict anti-terrorism laws triggered international condemnation, police and supporters said on Wednesday. Sri Lanka has previously said it needs more time to address issues of accountability and reconciliation after ending the 37-year conflict, which according to UN estimates claimed at least 100,000 lives.

Police say the two activists were detained after shots were fired from within a home that they were visiting, injuring one officer. Father Praveen Mahesan, a Catholic priest who heads the Peace and Reconciliation Centre in the war-torn Jaffna region, and Ruki Fernando of the Colombo-based INFORM advocacy group were detained on Sunday as they met relatives who lost loved ones during the Tamil separatist conflict.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said they were released after a court ruling late Tuesday.
Rohana said the activists, who were arrested in the northern district of Kilinochchi, were questioned extensively during their detention and further police investigations would continue.

Udaya Kalupathirana, the director of INFORM, said the pair had been released without charge. “They have not b