The person who gave information to US Embassy about the EPDP ‘s child trafficking rings in Jaffna was abducted on May 07, 2009 and since then, no information has been obtained concerning him.
He told US Embassy Colombo on March 26, 2007; “The children are sold into slavery, usually boys to work camps and girls to prostitution rings, through EPDP’s networks in India and Malaysia. Sunthararaj maintains that children are often smuggled out of the country with the help of a corrupt Customs and Immigration official at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.”
“Sunthararaj’s story was partially verified by Government Agent Ganesh, who stated that the EPDP works in concert with the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to operate Tamil prostitution rings for the soldiers. Ganesh stated that young women were taken and forced to have sex with between five and ten soldiers a night. Sometimes they are paid approximately a dollar for each “service.” The young women’s parents are unable to complain to authorities for fear of retribution and because doing so would ruin the girls’ reputation, making it impossible for them ever to marry” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.
Stephen Sinnavan Sunthararaj was the Project Manager at the Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), well known for documenting cases of child abuse in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
The Amnesty International said; “On 7 May 2009, Stephen Sunthararaj was abducted by five men whilst travelling in his lawyer’s car in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. He had been released without charge from police custody a few hours beforehand and has not been heard from since. Amnesty International fears that he has been subjected to enforced disappearance because of his work at the Centre for Human Rights and Development in Colombo.”
On February 12, 2009, members of the Special Task Force (STF) tried to force Sinnavan Stephen Sunthararaj into a van as he was leaving his office. A nearby police officer and a colleague were able to prevent the STF members from taking Sunthararaj. The STF officers then requested that the police officer take him to the Kolpity police station where he was formally detained on the basis of a two-month detention order, without charge.
On May 7, 2009, the day of his release, he has been abducted by armed men. While Sinnavan Sunthararaj Stephen and his wife returned from Kolpity police office by car, two people on a motorcycle blocked their way. Meanwhile, a van stopped near the car. Five armed men in army uniform alighted of the van, opened the door of the vehicle in which Sunthararaj was travelling, bundled him into the van and sped off.
The abduction occurred in a busy and crowded street. Sunthararaj’s wife has identified one of the perpetrators of the abduction as one of the Criminal Investigation Department officers who had previously visited her home for inquiries while her husband was held at Kolpity police station. However, no investigation was initiated.
In December 2009, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Palitha Kohana, had revealed at a meeting with United States Embassy and European Union officials that Sunthararaj had not been abducted but arrested, probably by intelligence services. Since then, Sunthararaj’s wife has been writing to the Office of the President of Sri Lanka, urging him to reveal Mr. Sunthararaj’s place of detention, and calling for his immediate release. She has still not received any response, in spite all her efforts.
US Department of State’s 2011 Country report on Sri Lanka noted; “There was no progress in solving the 2009 disappearance of Stephen Sunthararaj, project manager at the Center for Human Rights and Development. Sunthararaj was held by police without charges beginning in February of that year and was abducted by four persons in a white van wearing army uniforms shortly after he was released on a court order.”