FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Sri Lankan Journalists and HRDs under threat are eligible for UN Refugee status – UNHRC

A.3 Certain Journalists and Other Media Professionals 

Recent reports document, amongst others, cases of harassment, arbitrary detention, threats and
physical intimidation of journalists and other media professionals, allegedly perpetrated or condoned
by officials or pro-government forces.204 Media professionals appear to be targeted owing to the
topics they cover in their reports, such as government accountability and the rule of law. Limitations
on press freedom in the form of guidelines, including registration requirements and a code of conduct,
have been introduced.205 If these regulations are not adhered to, journalists and media professionals
may find themselves at risk.

Persons of the above profile are, depending on the individual circumstances of the case, likely to be in
need of international refugee protection on account of their (perceived) political opinion. For Tamil
journalists, ethnicity may also play an exacerbating role.207 Depending on the circumstances of the
case, the same may apply to family members and other dependants of individuals with the above
profile.

A.4 Certain Human Rights Activists

Threats to and attacks against human rights defenders, trade union activists208 and lawyers209 have
been documented in numerous reports.210 Humanitarian workers during the conflict and its immediate
aftermath, particularly those who worked with or were perceived as working with human rights or
protection issues, can also appropriately be considered within this profile.

In a number of incidents, human rights (and opposition) activists were reportedly prevented from
participating in peaceful protests,211 including by being arrested and detained.212 A human rights
defender was reported to have died after having allegedly been mistreated in public by members of the
Special Task Force.213 Retaliation against human rights defenders seeking to make use of UN
mechanisms has been reported by different sources.214 No mass arrests of protestors have been
reported in 2012.215

Persons of the above profile are, depending on the individual circumstances of the case, likely to be in
need of international refugee protection on account of their (perceived) political opinion. Depending
on the circumstances of the case, the same may apply to family members and other dependants of
individuals with the above profile. There may be some overlap between this group and opposition
politicians (A.2).

Read the full report here

Information

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