The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes
the awarding of an anti-corruption prize to Sri Lankan
journalist and press freedom activist Poddala Jayantha, who was forced into
exile after a brutal attack in June 2009.
Jayantha received corruption
watchdog Transparency International’s
Integrity Award on November 12 in recognition of his fearless reporting on
corruption in Sri Lanka, in a climate
where critical investigative journalism has been stymied by government
oppression and partisan violence. In one report for Silumina, Jayantha
exposed an alleged LKR 3.6 billion (USD 37 million) case of tax fraud.
The journalist has also worked
tirelessly in defence of freedom of expression and media workers’ rights in his
role as former General Secretary of the Sri Lankan
Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), an IFJ affiliate.
“The IFJ applauds
Transparency International’s recognition
of the integrity and courage of Poddala Jayanthya, who is known as much for his
excellent investigative journalism as his unrelenting defence of journalists’
rights and freedom of expression,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The award sends a clear
message that corruption and human rights abuses must be exposed and reminds us of
the crucial role of journalists who help in uncovering these crimes.”
Jayantha, who left Sri Lanka after being abducted and assaulted in an
attack which has left him with permanent disabilities, continues in his role as
President of the SLWJA in exile in the United States.
Meanwhile, a government
ban issued on November 10 which prevented BBC journalists from reporting on a
hearing into the country’s civil war in the country’s north was lifted on November
14, the BBC reported.
Government officials had
prevented the BBC crew from attending the trials, which hope to determine ways
to avoid repeating the atrocities committed in the country’s ethnic conflict
between the Sinhalese majority and separatist group the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Restrictions on media
remain in place for access to the predominantly Tamil north of the country,
which is home to a number of refugee camps and military installations,
according to BBC reports.
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