RAPID ACTION NETWORK Appeal | February, 2013

By | February 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm | No comments | Campaigns | Tags: , ,

Sri Lanka: PEN condemns attack on Sunday Leader journalist

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN Canada condemns the shooting of Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly on February 15, 2013, apparently in retaliation for his journalistic work. PEN welcomes the launch of an official investigation into the incident, but notes that more than a dozen Sri Lankan media workers have been killed during the past decade without any of their attackers being brought to justice. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Sri Lanka is obliged to promote and protect freedom of expression. PEN reminds the Sri Lankan authorities of this commitment and urges them to take all necessary steps to end the current culture of impunity.

Investigative journalist Faraz Shauketaly, 52, was at his home in Mount Lavinia, Colombo, on the evening of the February 15, when three armed men broke in and shot him in the neck. Shauketaly was attacked in a room on the top floor of his house, reportedly while he was talking on the phone with the editor of the Sunday Leader. Shauketaly was taken to hospital and, following surgery, is said to be out of danger. It is reported that unidentified men approached the journalist’s home some weeks ago and asked about his whereabouts in a threatening manner.

According to an official spokesperson, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered a special investigation into the shooting of Faraz Shauketaly. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is said to be in charge of the investigation.

The Sunday Leader, a newspaper known for its criticism of the government, has suffered a number of threats and attacks against its staff, including the assassination of its editor Lasantha Wickrematunge who was gunned down in January 2009, and the death threats against its editor Frederica Jansz, most recently in July 2012.

Background
Journalists, writers and media outlets commonly suffer intimidation and violence in Sri Lanka, a situation which has continued in spite of commitments to protect freedom of expression by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

After 25 years of conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared victory over the LTTE On May 1 , 2009. Rajapaksa won a landslide victory in the presidential elections of 26 January 2010 but the results were challenged by many, including his main opposition rival and former army chief General Sarath Fonseka. General Fonseka was arrested on February 8, 2010 on charges of conspiracy, and convicted several months later.

In April 2010, Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections. Later in the year, MPs passed a constitutional amendment allowing President Rajapaksa to stand for unlimited terms in office. Since the end of the war the state of free expression in Sri Lanka is widely believed to have deteriorated, with increased state control enabling in a ‘culture of terror’ to flourish which has resulted in widespread self-censorship and many journalists fleeing the country.

Please write immediately:

  • Urging Sri Lankan authorities to ensure Faraz Shauketaly’s attackers are brought to justice.
  • Expressing concern about the impact this incident will have on the state of free expression and journalists’ safety in Sri Lanka, where a culture of impunity prevails.
  • Urging the authorities to make clear their commitments to fulfilling Sri Lanka’s obligations, under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to promote and protect freedom of expression.

 

Send appeals to:
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2446657
Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk

Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department,
Colombo 12,
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2 436421

High Commissioner Chitranganee Wagiswara
Sri Lanka High Commission
333 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1C1

Photo credit: Reuters

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