SRI LANKAN AMBASSADOR OUTRAGED BY ATTACKS
Invites Journalist Delegation to Sri Lanka
to Observe Freedoms Firsthand
In response to a meeting yesterday at the Embassy
of Sri Lanka with a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ), the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the United States, Jaliya
Wickramasuriya, reaffirmed the Government of Sri Lanka's outrage
for attacks on journalists and commitment to supporting media
freedom. He also encouraged delegation members to meet with a
cross section of reporters actively working in the country to
learn firsthand more about the current situation.
“The Government of Sri Lanka is perturbed
by threats against media workers and especially repulsed by the
alleged attacks on media workers,” said the Ambassador.
“The Government in no way condones or endorses any such
attacks. Further, the Embassy would be pleased to facilitate any
visits by journalists and arrange meetings with appropriate officials.
If formal complaints have been made on alleged threats or harassment,
the Embassy will pursue them with the relevant authorities in
Sri Lanka for appropriate action.”
During the meeting, the Ambassador stressed that
media freedom exists in full force in Sri Lanka and journalists
enjoy freedom of reporting and commenting on events in Sri Lanka,
subject to limitations constitutionally placed on them. It was
pointed out that those who have violated laws in the country have
been subject to arrest and detention and brought under the due
process that exists in Sri Lanka. Those laws are applicable to
journalists as well.
One such example are the issues relating to the
arrest and detention and upcoming trial of journalist J.S. Tissanayagam.
The Ambassador pointed out that a confession made by Tissanayagam
has been admitted and the defence has been called for March 20,
It was noted that due process is observed in
all cases of arrest and detention and journalists would go through
this process when they are brought to trial. Concerns were expressed
by the delegation that investigations into the incidents pertaining
to journalists are taking a long time and the government must
expedite this process. It was assured to the delegation that the
investigations have been launched in all these cases and the government
will be taking steps to bring these offenders to trial.
On the question of non disclosure of information,
relating to the ongoing investigations, it was pointed out that
the magistrate gets periodic reports about the progress of ongoing
investigations. The Ambassador pointed out that complete transparency
prevails in regards to journalists, and he is committed to hosting
future meetings to iron out any concerns that might arise.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
06 March 2009