For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Monday, 17 May 2010 01:50
By Susitha R. Fernando
Two weeks had gone but formalizing the Presidential Pardon granted to senior journalist J. S. Tissainayagam is yet to be finalized. Jailed journalist J. S. Tissainayagam who is on bail is still awaiting the completion of the legal procedure to obtain the President’s pardon issued on him officially.
The Attorney General Mohan Peiris last week said that the procedure with regard to the Presidential pardon on jailed journalist would be finalized during the course of the week. The Attorney General had also said that the pardon would be effected simultaneous with the withdrawal of appeal filed by Tissainayagam before the Court of Appeal.
The AG also assured that it would not be necessary for journalist Tissaiinayagam to go back to prison even though the appeal from which he was bailed, is withdrawn.
“We would workout a way to effect the pardon simultaneous to withdrawal,” AG Peiris had said. When contacted yesterday a senior officer from the Attorney General’s Department said that a meeting had been held with the attorneys of journalist Tissainayagam and pardon would be effected in “a couple of days” from the withdrawal of the appeal from Court of Appeal.
“Once the Appeal is withdrawn necessary formalities will be done to officially handover the pardon,” spokesman who wants to remain anonymous told the Daily Mirror. Exactly two weeks ago, on May 3, External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiries announced that J. S. Tissainayagam would be freed on a Presidential Pardon.
Minister Peiries made this announcement on the World Press Freedom Day at a press conference where a large number of foreign and local media were gathered.
Subsequently the news that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had decided to pardon journalist Tissaiinayagam was given much publicity both locally an internationally.
Tissaiinayagam who was sentenced to twenty years rigorous imprisonment was granted bail on January 11 following an application filed by him. In August 2009 Tissaiinayagam was convicted under three charges of conspiracy and violating the Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations. Tissainayagam was arrested in 2008 and charged with inciting violence in articles for his magazine. While media rights organizations rallied on behalf of Tissainayagam throughout his arrest and detention, eight media organization including Editors’ Guild on last September wrote to the President urging that Tissainayagam be given a pardon. Last September, Tissainayagam was given an award for courageous and ethical journalism by the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and he was also named the first recipient of the Peter Mackler Award.