FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

On Sri Lanka, UN Claims Inaccuracies in Press Freedom Groups’ Petition, Passes Buck

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 — The UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, so tongue tied about Sri Lanka and whether its Panel on Accountability will as claimed travel there, on March 9 confirmed receiving a petition from press freedom groups about disappeared Sri Lankan journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda, a day after Inner City Press asked about the letter.

But UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that the groups’ letter contains “inaccuracies.” Inner City Press asked Nesirky to explain. Nesirky pointed to a part of the letter that states to Ban:

“On February 18, only after public pressure, did your office say it had received her letter. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told a press conference in New York that ‘letter is now being reviewed. We’ve asked for an update on this, and will let you know when we have it.’”

The “inaccuracies”? Nesirky’s quote was from the UN noon briefing of February 16, not February 18. And, Nesirky argued on Wednesday, even though he had initially said the UN system had not received a request for assistance from Prageeth’s wife, his deputy Farhan Haq corrected that on February 1.

“You reported about that on February 1,” Nesirky told Inner City Press, “then you asked me on February 16 again.”

On February 16, Inner City Press assumed that Nesirky would explain what had been done with and on the letter. Instead he said that Prageeth’s wife’s letter had not been received, then issued the later correction, saying that the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General “asked for an update on this, and will let you know when we have it.
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