prageeth eknelygoda

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Attacks on the Press   |   Sri Lanka

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Sri Lanka

Journalists and news outlets working outside government-approved news media remained under constant pressure and faced attacks even as Sri Lanka prepared to host the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay slammed Sri Lanka's rights record during a visit to the country, saying the government had become increasingly repressive toward the press and critical voices. Earlier in the year, authorities introduced a draft media code in parliament that would impose harsh restrictions on journalists' ability to report freely. It was withdrawn after criticism. Local journalists said the code would further the self-censorship that was already pervasive. The government showed no political will to address its record of perfect impunity in nine murders of journalists during the past decade. Cartoonist and columnist Prageeth Eknelygoda remained unaccounted for after disappearing in 2010.

February 12, 2014 1:31 AM ET

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

UN rights chief should push Sri Lanka on press freedom

When the human rights watchdog for the United Nations visits Sri Lanka this weekend she should forcefully address the government's problematic record on press freedom.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka tries new ways to crush independent media

In Sri Lanka, where there has seldom been good news for the media in recent years, things have taken a further turn for the worse, as well as a turn for the bizarre. With President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government secure in its 2010 electoral mandate, its leaders have made fresh moves to tighten their control of the press. There is a plan afoot to re-criminalize defamation, and legislation has been proposed for a code of ethics that threatens to give the government a legal basis to quash journalism it deems "unethical." All this comes ahead of November's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, which seems sure to go ahead despite calls for boycotts from several quarters because of the government's poor human rights record.

Attacks on the Press   |   Sri Lanka

Attacks on the Press in 2012: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka remained a highly restrictive and dangerous nation for the press. Critical or opposition journalists continued to face a climate of intense intimidation. More than 20 journalists have gone into exile in the last five years, one of the highest rates in the world. Work-related murders have declined since 2009, but the slayings of nine journalists have gone unsolved over the last decade, one of the worst records of impunity in the world. The government moved aggressively to obstruct the flow of information. In July, the Ministry of Media and Information blocked efforts to introduce freedom of information legislation before parliament, saying national security would be threatened if citizens were given access to public documents. The government had barred previous right-to-information efforts, including one in 2011. In June, police raided the offices of two opposition news websites, arresting staff members and confiscating equipment. At least five other critical websites were blocked. And in March, the authorities told all news organizations they must obtain prior official approval before issuing any text or SMS news alerts that carried information about the military or police.

February 14, 2013 12:05 AM ET

  |   Ataques a la Prensa

Ataques a la Prensa en 2012: Desapariciones sin explicación

La policía nunca se molestó en buscar a la reportera María Esther Aguilar Casimbe. No es inusual. Por María Salazar-Ferro

(AFP/Lakruwan Wannirachchi)

14 de Febrero 2013 12:04 AM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Black January: Year two

Journalists, rights activists, and opposition lawmakers, with Sandya Eknelygoda in the center, protest attacks on journalists and authorities' failure to punish the culprits in Colombo Tuesday. (AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Black January commemorations in Colombo have become an annual event. Tuesday's demonstration was the second. The protest aims to recall the series of killings and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka in recent years, many of them occurring in Januaries past. All of them have gone untried and unpunished, sustaining the country's perfect record of impunity for those who want to silence media by murder.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, justice for Eknelygoda is a waiting game

Three years ago, on January 24, 2010, columnist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda vanished on his way to work to cover the final campaigning in Sri Lanka's bitterly contested presidential election. He has not been heard from since. The pro-opposition website he worked for, Lanka eNews, has been repeatedly attacked, its offices hit with arson, its staff arrested and harassed, its editor driven into exile in England.

January 23, 2013 6:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sandhya Eknelygoda speaks for Sri Lanka's disappeared

When I first met Sandhya Eknelygoda in May 2010 in her home outside Colombo, she was a distressed mother of two young boys whose husband had gone missing. He was last seen four months earlier, just prior to the elections that returned President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power after the end of the decades-long war with Tamil secessionists. She still has no inkling of the whereabouts of her husband Prageeth, a cartoonist and columnist for the opposition website Lanka eNews (which has since ceased to operate in Sri Lanka because of arson attacks and legal harassment of its staff, but is maintained overseas).

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

A heads-up for Sri Lanka press freedom watchers

Prageeth Eknelygoda's wife and sons are still seeking information on him. (CPJ)

Former Attorney General Mohan Peiris has been ordered to testify about a statement he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011, in which he said that Prageeth Eknelygoda was alive and living outside the country (see "Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen"). Peiris will have to appear at the Homogama Magistrate's Court in Colombo on June 5, next Tuesday, which has been hearing the case brought by Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, to learn more about his disappearance on January 24, 2010.

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