IFJ Urges Speedy Processing of Tissainayagam’s Pardon

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges Sri Lanka’s

Government to speed up its processing of a full and unconditional presidential

pardon for senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam.


On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Sri Lanka’s

Minister for External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, reportedly told a press conference

that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would pardon Tissainayagam,

who was sentenced last year to 20 years’ jail on accusations of terrorism-related



On May 11, Attorney-General Mohan

Peiris said that the pardon would be granted swiftly on the condition that Tissainayagam’s appeal against his conviction and

sentence was simultaneously withdrawn, according to the local Daily Mirror. The Mirror also reported that the Attorney-General was to process the

pardon during the week ending Friday, May 14.


However, two weeks after the

announcement of a pardon, the details and any conditions remain unknown. There has

been no official confirmation of when all necessary judicial procedures will be

enacted to formally issue the pardon and fully restore Tissainayagam’s



“Sri Lanka’s

President and Attorney-General must provide a clear and transparent timeline

for when Tissainayagam’s unconditional

pardon and full restoration of rights will be enacted,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

Tissainayagam was initially detained

in March 2008. He was held for more than five months until being charged in

August 2008 under counter-terror and emergency laws. He was accused of

attempting to cause racial or communal disharmony through his articles on human

rights issues published in the North-Eastern

Monthly in 2006 and 2007.

Tissainayagam was convicted on August

31 last year to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment under Sri Lanka’s

draconian counter-terror and emergency laws. It was one of the harshest

sentences ever imposed on a journalist in a democratic country, on the basis of

the content of their professional work.

Tissainayagam was granted bail in

January this year while awaiting appeal. While no longer held in the

notoriously dangerous Magazine prison, there are continuing concerns for his



The IFJ calls on the international

community and press freedom advocates to maintain their commitment and

attention to Tissainayagam’s case to

ensure that Sri Lanka’s Government

lives up to the promise of a full pardon and restoration of Tissainayagam’s rights.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide