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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Nomination for Secretary's

VZCZCXYZ0010
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #1441/01 2920922
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 190922Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7040

UNCLAS COLOMBO 001441

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND G/IWI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KWMN KPAO CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY'S
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE AWARD

REF: STATE 126072

1. Embassy Colombo wishes to nominate Ms. Srinithy
Nandasekaran of Sri Lanka for the Secretary's International
Woman of Courage Award. As one of Sri Lanka's few female
attorneys from the ethnic minority Tamil population, Ms.
Nandasekaran has worked tirelessly as a lawyer, judge, and
human rights activist to protect the rights of civilians
caught in the crossfire of Sri Lanka's 25-year ethnic
conflict.

2. Ms. Nandasekaran's determined efforts to hold government
officials and security force officers accountable for their
actions have led to career demotions and threats to her life
and the lives of her family members. In 2003, while serving
in Kayts, an island off the Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri
Lanka, Ms. Nandasekaran came under fire for ordering the
return of 13 official vehicles that were being
inappropriately used by the Eelam People's Democratic Party
(EPDP), a pro-government paramilitary group with a history of
serious human rights abuses. She defied advice from a senior
judge to consider the lives of her three children and
withdraw the order against the EPDP. Rather than allow the
case to proceed, the Government removed her from her position
as Magistrate and District Judge in Kayts and transferred her
to Jaffna.

3. Ms. Nandasekaran served in Jaffna as an Additional
Magistrate from late 2003 until September 2006. While in
that position, Ms. Nandasekaran allowed a case against
several officers, including Lt. Col. Duminda Chanaka
Keppetiwalana, to proceed. Keppetiwalana was then commanding
officer of Nawathkuly Army Camp and is the current executive
assistant to the Sri Lankan army commander. Keppetiwalana
was accused of overseeing the abduction and assassination of
more than 30 persons in 1996-97. Because of the high profile
nature of the defendant, Ms. Nandasekaran was strongly
advised by colleagues on the bench to dismiss the charges and
received threats from government and military leaders when
she refused. She did not bow to the pressure.

4. Ms. Nandasekaran also played a key role in the
controversial case involving the abduction and murder of
Jaffna human right activist Father Jim Brown, a Catholic
priest who disappeared near a military checkpoint in
mid-2006. Ms. Nandasekaran had ordered the police to begin
investigating the Sri Lankan Navy's alleged involvement in
Father Brown's disappearance. Because of her involvement in
the Keppetiwalana and Father Brown cases, she was removed
from her assignments and restricted to hearing only civil
cases. No progress has been made in the Keppetiwalana or
Brown investigations since her removal from the cases. Ms.
Nandasekaran was transferred from Jaffna in January 2007,
shortly after sharing information with Ambassador Blake about
human rights abuses in Jaffna.

5. Ms. Nandasekaran has been commended by human rights
activists and citizens in Jaffna for her personal commitment
to justice for the victims of human rights abuses, often in
defiance of threats from the government and paramilitary
groups. In May 2006, she provided information to the police
on the massacre of 12 civilians in Alapitty, Kayts. In
August 2006, she personally assisted in the rescue of 54
injured civilians from a Christian church that was under
attack. As Jaffna Magistrate, she initiated a new procedure
whereby victims or victims' relatives can initiate cases in
the Magistrate's Court when civilians are reported missing
after being take into custody by government security forces.

6. When she was transferred from Jaffna to Colombo in
January 2007, Ms. Nandasekaran was demoted to the Juvenile
Court. Nonetheless, she has taken on the role of defending
the rights of women and children with enthusiasm, saying "I
don't mind. There is a lot to be done to protect the
children of Sri Lanka." In several cases she has pursued
justice against those accused of child abuse and violence
against women, even when the perpetrators were influential
officials.

7. Ms. Nandasekaran is richly deserving of this award. Post
confirms that Nandasekaran has been notified and has
consented to her nomination.

Full Name: Srinithy Nandasekaran
Title/Position: Magistrate, Colombo Juvenile Court
DOB: November 2, 1960
POB: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Citizenship: Sri Lankan
Address: 19/150 Farm Road, Mattakuliya, Colombo 15
Phone Numbers: (Home) 94-11-254-0590 (Cell)
94-77-766-0404 (Work) 94-11-258-7498

Email Address: nsrinithi@gmail.com
Passport Number: N1091144
BLAKE

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