FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

International Award For Sri Lankan Journalist – IFJ

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.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

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