Sri Lanka: Free Journalist Detained on Terrorism Charges

Press Release from Article 19
6 March 2009

365 days after Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam was detained under Anti-Terrorism legislation, ARTICLE 19 joins many people and organisations around the world calling for his immediate release.

Tissainayagam, now an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, was detained without charge on 7 March 2008. Following international calls for his release the Sri Lankan authorities finally brought charges against him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on 25 August 2008 for a series of newspaper articles.

According to journalist and former Convener of the Sri Lankan Free Media Movement, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, "Tissainayagam was considered a kind of bridge between the north and south, or the Sinhalese and the Tamils. He has written many articles concerning the ethnic situation in Sri Lanka."

Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director ARTICLE 19 adds "over the past 3 years more than 14 journalists have been killed in Sri Lanka and many have escaped to India and the West, fearing for their lives. Tissainayagam’s case well demonstrates the threats that counter terrorism legislation and measures pose to freedom of the press, as they are so easily abused. His continued imprisonment for the peaceful expression of his opinion sadly constitutes one of the many violations that are common place in today’s Sri Lanka, including wide censorship, self-censorship, death threats, violence and arbitrary arrests."

Today ARTICLE 19 joins seven media rights organisations in demanding that the Sri Lankan government urgently review his case.

NOTES TO EDITORS

ARTICLE 19

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech. For more information on ARTICLE 19 please visit www.article19.org