For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

By Susitha R. Fernando

An application has been filed for the withdrawal of an appeal filed by Senior Journalist J. S. Tissainayagam to process the Presidential pardon granted to him on the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Lawyers for Tissainayagam said the motion was filed in the Court of Appeal to withdraw the appeal filed against the conviction and 20 years rigorous imprisonment imposed on the journalist by the Colombo High Court.

Following sentence, Tissainayagam had filed an appeal against the High Court order and was later bailed on an application for bail.

However on May 3, External Affairs Minister Minister G. L. Peiries announced that Tissainayagam would get a presidential pardon.

When inquired about the process of the Presidential pardon, Attorney General Mohan Peiris said that appeal has to be withdrawn to carry out the pardon.

“The formal work on the process of pardon can be done once the appeal is withdrawn,” AG Mohan Peiris told the Daily Mirror.

He also said the process could be done immediately once the appeal is withdrawn. The AG also had earlier said that the pardon would be effected simultaneous to the withdrawal of the appeal.

Meanwhile the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) last week in a statement urged the government to speed up processing of a full and unconditional presidential pardon for Senior journalist J.S. Tissainayagam.

“Sri Lanka’s President and Attorney-General must provide a clear and transparent timeline when Tissainayagam’s unconditional pardon and full restoration of rights would be enacted,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White had stated. The IFJ had also called on the international community and press freedom advocates to maintain their commitment and attention to Tissainayagam’s case to ensure a full pardon and restoration of Tissainayagam’s rights.

J. S. Tissainayagam who was sentenced to twenty years rigorous imprisonment was granted bail on January 11 following an application filed by him. On August 2009 Tissainayagam was convicted under three charges of conspiracy and violating the Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations. Tissainayagam was arrested in 2008 by the Terrorist Investigation Division and charged with inciting violence in articles for his magazine.

May 2010
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