The International Federation
of Journalists (IFJ) endorses a call by a newly formed network of Sri Lankan
journalists in exile urging Sri Lanka’s
Government to take immediate action to end the safety and censorship crisis confronting
journalists and media workers in Sri Lanka.
A statement issued on July 22 by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS)
highlights unprecedented levels of self-censorship in the Sri Lankan media as a
result of intimidation, harassment
and violence against the media, both
during the war between the Government’s forces and the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and since the war ended.
Since the election of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to
power in 2004 with the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa as its prime
minister, 33 journalists and media
workers, as well as one entertainer, have been killed,
the JDS statement said.
JDS notes that the Rajapaksa Government and its authorities have failed
to bring the perpetrators of violence against media personnel to justice. More
than 50 journalists and media workers have left the country for fear of
persecution, according to JDS.
JDS supports an open letter by the International
Press Freedom Mission, which includes
the IFJ, sent to President Rajapaksa
on July 16, in which the mission
outlines an 11-point plan to reverse the crisis of press freedom and
journalists’ rights in Sri
In recent years, Sri Lanka
has gained an unenviable reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in
the Asia-Pacific region and the world for the journalism profession.
J.S. Tissainayagam, a senior Tamil journalist and former director of
the www.outreachSL.com news website, currently awaits a verdict following his trial on charges
laid under Sri Lanka’s
counter-terrorism legislation in relation to his work as a journalist. The
verdict is expected to be delivered on August 31.
Arrested with colleague V. Jesiharan and Jesiharan’s wife, Valarmathi,
Tissainayagam is one of few journalists
in the world to be accused of terrorism on the basis of his journalistic work.
“Impunity for violence directed against journalists and media workers in Sri Lanka
must end,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said. “The campaign of violence and
intimidation denies media workers their right to security and to work in safety, and denying ordinary citizens their right to independent
and diverse points of view.”
To read the JDS Statement in English,
To read the JDS Statement in Sinhala click
To read the JDS Staetment in Tamil click
To read the Open Letter to President Rajapaksa click
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
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