FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Prageeth Case: United Nations Must Intervene – IFJ

Internatioanl Federation of Journalists

Media Release: Sri Lanka  /
January 25, 2011

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) lends full support to a petition submitted to the United Nations in Colombo by Sandya Eknaligoda, on the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of her husband, Prageeth Eknaligoda.

Sandya Eknaligoda submitted the petition to the UN representative in Colombo on January 24. She was accompanied by her children and a group of about 35 press freedom and human rights activists, including members of IFJ affiliates.

The petition calls on the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Neil Buhne, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to expedite investigations into the disappearance of the Lanka-e-News columnist and cartoonist.

Eknaligoda made a similar appeal to current and former Sri Lankan media ministers and current members of parliament earlier this month, but has not yet received a reply.

A Global Day of Action to mark 200 days since Prageeth disappeared coincided with a similar submission to the High Court in Colombo, after the first six hearings into his disappearance delivered no significant findings.

“The IFJ is disappointed that demands for a full and far-reaching investigation into Prageeth’s disappearance are not being heard by officials in Sri Lanka,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“The international community of journalists and press freedom activists must continue to exert pressure at all levels until an investigation is conducted and all its findings are made public.”

Prageeth disappeared two days before Sri Lanka’s presidential election on January 26, 2010, during a period of extreme insecurity in which journalists and media workers were routinely attacked or threatened. Many journalists fled the country as repression and violence stymied free expression in the wake of the country’s long and bitter civil war.

At the height of Sri Lanka’s media safety crisis, a coalition of press freedom and human rights groups campaigned to have Sri Lanka’s preferential trading arrangement with the European Union suspended unless the Government could provide evidence of upholding human rights. The trading benefits have since been withdrawn.

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

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