Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journalists Demand Investigations into Death, Disappearance in Sri Lanka

As protests in Sri Lanka mark the anniversaries of the murder of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands that the Government of Sri Lanka expedite investigations into these cases and immediately disclose any findings.
The Alliance of Media Organisations, which includes IFJ affiliates the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), staged a protest in Colombo on January 18 to mark two years since the death of Wickrematunge and one year since Eknaligoda’s disappearance.

Wickrematunge was murdered on January 8, 2009 in the midst of a dramatic increase in violent attacks on journalists and media organisations as the country’s long-running civil war drew to an end. Eknaligoda, a well-known cartoonist and columnist with Lanka-e-News has been missing since January 24, 2010 – only two days before Sri Lanka’s bitterly contested presidential election.

Around 100 journalists, trade unionists and press freedom activists gathered outside the Fort railway station in the capital Colombo to mark the anniversaries and demand the Government, police and judiciary conduct “meaningful investigations” into these cases.

Official enquiries into both cases have made slow progress, with little or no information being made available to the public, leading journalists and press freedom activists to question the integrity of the investigations.

“It is hard to believe that, after two years, no real progress has been made in the investigation into Wickrematunge’s death, especially given the very public nature of his murder,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“Eknaligoda’s disappearance is equally troubling and we hold grave fears for his wellbeing.

“Sri Lanka’s authorities must employ every resource at their disposal to thoroughly investigate and resolve these cases without further delay.”

In a posthumous editorial Wickrematunge, who was well aware that the deaths of media workers in Sri Lanka were often met with impunity, predicted that any investigation into his death would be ineffectual.

See images from the January 18 protest here:!/album.php?fbid=169213243123560&id=100001046575746&aid=33372
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ Asia-Pacific on Facebook here

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