Issuing a joint report yesterday, the Centre for Justice & Accountability (CJA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to compose a resolution recommending1the Sri Lankan government to cease harassment, surveillance and attacks against journalists and law enforcement officers investigating crimes against journalists.
In the report forwarded to the UNHRC by the California based CJA and CJP, it was requested the members of the UNHRC to recommend the SL government,
“to promptly release former CID Director Shani Abeysekara, who had been overseeing an investigation into violence against journalists prior to his detention.”
The two international entities, representing justice and media rights also urged the Sri Lanka government to resume and provide resources for the stalled investigations into the death of journalists such as Lasantha Wickramatunga and Prageeth Eknaligoda.
Human rights and freedom of expression are rapidly deteriorated in Sri Lanka, the report claims.
“A decade ago, the Sri Lankan government, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, launched a systematic and deadly campaign to silence and repress journalists. In 2014, Sri Lanka was among the top 10 countries in the CPJ Index for impunity for the killing of journalists. Today, the impunity for these crimes has led to a new wave of repression under the new administration of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.”
“From 2005 to 2015, during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration, he launched a vicious attack on the free media, targeting journalists who criticized the government and its security forces. The Ministry of Defense, led by then Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, used ‘white van commandos’ to abduct and kill journalists. An undercover unit called the “Tripoli Platoon” was active in the military intelligence service, searching for and attacking journalists.”
As the Human Rights Commission is scheduled to gather this month, the report emphasizes that it is high time to vote for a new resolution to promote accountability and to take steps to ensure greater security for Sri Lankan journalists.
The report, also claimed that since the November 2019 election victory of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, attacks on journalists has shoot up drastically.
The CJA and CJP also called on the UNHRC to implement the recommendations made by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Given the Government of Sri Lanka’s refusal to take concrete steps to implement its human rights obligations, including its duty to ensure that victims of state violence have a right to a remedy, we urge the Human Rights Council to implement the recommendations made by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.”