IFJ Welcomes Expert Report on Jailing of Journalist in Sri Lanka


International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said that the report of the

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on the trial of Sri Lankan journalist

J. S. Tissainayagam vindicates the criticism of the 20 year jail term imposed

on him by the High Court of Colombo on 31 August.

Tissainayagam was found guilty of "causing

communal disharmony" and "receiving money from Tamil Tiger rebels to

pay for his website" in a case that sparked global condemnation from

journalists and human rights' groups.


report is a clinical analysis of a flawed judicial process," said Aidan White,

IFJ General Secretary. "It shows, in particular, lack of reliable evidence against

Tissainayagam and an apparent conflict of interest. These conclusions indicate

that the sentence is unsafe and should not stand."


ICJ report issued today raised a "number of concerns regarding fair trial

standards, including the judge's interlocutory decision to allow into evidence

what counsel for Mr Tissainayagam described as a forced confession, and

subsequent denial of his right to appeal". The report noted that presiding Judge

Wijesundara is the sister of the officer who signed the Indictment against



ICJ says the case of Tissainayagam, a prominent Tamil journalist, was the first

prosecution of a journalist under terrorism charges for "exercising freedom of

expression, despite these laws being on the books for decades". The group

criticised the government for its decision to maintain the charges after its

military victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels.


group says the trial of the journalist fits the pattern of government's "attacks

and threats of attacks against journalists and critics of Government policy,

including public accusations by persons associated with the Government that

equate such critics with terrorists and traitors, for example, in commentaries

posted on an official website of the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law

and Order".


report adds to the outrage felt across media community and human rights

organisations after this miscarriage of justice against Tissainayagam," added

White. "He must be released immediately."


For more information

contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 123 countries worldwide