Exiled Journalists Call For End to Impunity in Sri Lanka

 

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

Lanka.

 

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,

click

here

To read the JDS Statement in Sinhala click

here

To read the JDS Staetment in Tamil click

here

To read the Open Letter to President Rajapaksa click

here

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide