Roy Samathanam

Sri Lanka

At a Glance

As an ethnic Tamil born in Sri Lanka, Roy Samathanam experienced persecution based on his ethnicity since his childhood. In 1990, he came to Canada as a refugee, and ultimately became a Canadian citizen.

In 2005, Roy took advantage of the lull in the civil war to return to Sri Lanka and get married to his wife. Two years later, armed officers stormed into his house in the middle of the night and arrested him after he was unable to pay a bribe. Roy remained in detention for 3 years, during which he was subjected to various forms of torture and was not permitted to see a lawyer. He was finally released from prison in August 2010 and returned to Canada.

With CCIJ’s help, Roy filed a complaint before the UN Human Rights Committee in 2013, accusing Sri Lanka of violating several of his rights, including his right to freedom from torture. In November 2016, the Committee concluded that Sri Lanka violated Roy’s rights and stated that the government was obligated to take several steps to address these violations.

Photographer: Aljosa Alijagic.

In His Own Words

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To learn more about Roy’s story and his justice initiatives, visit our website.