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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 110

Sri Lankan Ambassador Invites Journalist Delegation to Sri Lanka to Observe for Firsthand Freedom Enjoyed by journalists

Washington, D.C., 07 March, ( At a meeting held yesterday in the Embassy of Sri Lanka with a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Jaliya Wickramasuriya, the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the United States, reaffirmed the availability of the media freedom in Sri Lanka. He also encouraged the delegation members to meet with a cross section of journalists actively working in the country to learn firsthand more about the current situation.

"The Government of Sri Lanka is perturbed by unfounded allegations against media," said the Ambassador. "The Government in no way condones or endorses any attacks on journalists. 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 any incidents of alleged threats or harassment, the Embassy will pursue them with the relevant authorities in Sri Lanka for appropriate action," the Ambassador said.

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 as in any other countries. It was pointed out that those who have violated laws in the country have been subjected to arrest and detention under the due legal process that exists in Sri Lanka. Those laws are applicable to journalists as well.

One such example is the issues relating to the arrest and detention 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, 2009.

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 the 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

- Asian Tribune -

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