The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands the immediate release of journalist J.S. Tisseinayagam, who has been held without charge by Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) for 24 days.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, Tisseinayagam, the editor of www.outreachlk.wordpress.com and a columnist for the Sunday Times, was detained by five TID officers who searched his home on March 7.
Three journalists working for the website, E-Kwality printing press owner B. Jasiharan, who writes for outreach.com, and a relative of Jasiharan were also arrested on March 7 and 8.
A Colombo magistrate’s court released the three journalists, Kithsiri Wijesingae, Ranga Lasanatha and Udayanan, as well as Jasiharan’s relative, Mr Kumara, on March 19.
Jasiharan is reportedly still in detention.
On March 26, Tisseinayagam filed a fundamental rights petition to the Supreme Court claiming his unwarranted arrest is based on anti-Tamil ethnic discrimination with no legal basis.
He also reported that the conduct of the TID officers was cruel and degrading without proper regard for his serious eye condition, a violation of his rights guaranteed and protected under Sri Lanka’s Constitution.
Tisseinayam’s wife reports that he has been denied access to a lawyer.
“To detain journalists, media workers and anyone without charge or explanation and then deny them access to legal representation is a serious violation of basic human rights,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“The message is simple: release Tisseinayagam immediately.”
The IFJ calls on Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court to uphold the petition filed by Tisseinayagam and ensure that all parties detained in relation to this matter are granted their constitutional rights to legal representation and released immediately if no due cause for arrest can be shown.
The “Stop the War on Journalists in Sri Lanka” campaign, launched by the IFJ on March 28 and involving 40 press freedom and human rights organisations from around the world, has demanded intervention by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to protect all journalists in Sri Lanka, including Tisseinayagam.
A Global Day of Action for the protection of journalists in Sri Lanka will be held on April 10.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries