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
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