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sentence was simultaneously withdrawn, according to the local Daily Mirror.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
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.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide