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JDS responds to Attorney General's offer

Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka welcomes the offer made by the Sri Lankan Attorney General, Mohan Peiris, to provide protection for exiled journalists if they return to the island but urges him to take immediate steps to prove he is serious about media freedom.

Inviting exiled journalists back home, the Attorney General told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that there must be assurances on the part of the government that those who return won’t come to any harm. He was also quoted as saying that it was not useful to have journalists staying away from the country and ‘attacking the government.’ Discussing the issue of exiled journalists while meeting a CPJ delegation in Colombo on Wednesday 10th March he said “They must come back and work with us and help set up the structures so that we can work together and we can respect each other.”

Over seventy Sri Lankan media workers fled Sri Lanka during the Mahinda Rajapaksa period of government due to intimidation and death threats. They were unable to work in Sri Lanka after being denounced as people who “attack the government”. It is interesting to note the Attorney General now accepts that it is the responsibility of the government to provide protection to these journalists in future; is he also suggesting it was the government threatened the journalists in the first place?

As an initial step to provide assurances to exiled journalists who wish to return, JDS calls upon the Attorney General to prove his good intentions by disclosing the whereabouts of Prageeth Ekneligoda who has been missing since the 24th of January and by advising the courts to repeal the 20 year jail sentence given to J.S.Tissainayagam under anti-terrorist laws. In addition, we would like the Attorney General to expedite investigations into the many unsolved crimes against media workers (listed below) during the Mahinda Rajapaksa period of rule and bring those responsible to book.

Unless the government takes steps to allay the fears of journalists working in Sri Lanka and ends the culture of impunity, the Attorney General's words will be another empty promise and the return of exiled journalists who love their country still a distant dream.

Executive Committee
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka


Media workers killed in Sri Lanka since December 2005 until March 2009


1. K. Navaratnam (45) – 22 December 2005
Media worker (killed for selling “Yarl Thinakkural” in Jaffna)


2. Subramaniam Suhirtharajan (35) - 24 January 2006
A journalist attached to “Sudar Oli” / assassinated for exposing the killers of 5 students in Trincomalee

3. S. T. Gananathan (64) – 01 February 2006
Owner of the News and Information Centre in Jaffna / shot dead near the Ariyalai Army Camp

4. Bastian George Sagayathas (35) – 03 May 2006
Sales Manager – Jaffna “Uthayan” newspaper / killed inside the newspaper office situated within HighSecurity Zone when Colombo was celebrating International Press Freedom Day / Armed attackers destroyed the computer equipments in the office and after killing two and injuring 3 other media workers.

5. Rajaratnam Ranjith Kumar (28) – 03 May 2006
A media worker attached to Jaffna “Uthayan” newspaper / killed inside the newspaper office situated within the High Security Zone along with its Sales manager

6. Sampath Lakmal de Silva – 02 July 2006
A freelance journalist / abducted from his home in Boralesgamuwa / bullet riddled body was found 3km away from his house.

7. Mariadasan Manojanraj (24) – 01 August 2006
Newspaper seller who sold “Yarl Thinakkural” in Jaffna

8. Sathasivam Baskaran (44) – 15 August 2006
A media worker (a driver) attached to Jaffna “Uthayan” newspaper / Killed while he was returning home after distributing the newspaper

9. Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah (68) – 20 August 2006
The Managing Director of Jaffna based “Namathu Eelanadu” newspaper / He was killed inside his house and the newspaper was closed down immediately after his death.


10. S. Raveendran (38) – 12 February 2007
A media worker / Worked as a machine operator in the print shop which printed “Namthu Eelanadu” newspaper.

11. Subramaniam Ramachandran (37)– 15 February 2007
Worked as a reporter for “Yarl Thinakkural” and “Valampuri” in Jaffna / He was abducted while returning home.

12. Chandrabose Suthakar (32) – 16 April 2007
Editor of a local magazine “The Soil”/ He was a graduate of the College of Journalism, had done a stint at the Virakesari, written for the Tamil journal Sarinihar and functioned as a freelance journalist from Vavuniya.

13. Selvarasah Rajeevarman (25) – 29 April 2007
Worked as a staff Reporter at “Uthayan”/ He was shot dead close to the newspaper office when he was leaving the office.

14. Sahadevan Neelakshan (22) – 01 August 2007
A student at Media Research and Information Institute in Jaffna and editor of the student-run Chaalaram magazine/ shot by gunmen at his home in Kokkuvil, Jaffna, an area heavily guarded by the Sri Lankan military

15. Anthonypillai Sherin Siththiranjan (36) – 05 November 2007
A circulation officer - “Yarl Thinakkural” / Abducted in Eesalai during the early hours while he was distributing the paper

16. Vadivel Nimalarajah (31) – 17 November 2007
A proof reader -“Uthayan” Newspaper / Abducted while returning home.

17. Iasaivili Chempiyan (Subajini) – 27 November 2007
A news presenter -“Pulikalin Kural” Radio Station/ She was killed when the radio station was bombed by Sri Lankan Air Force jets.

18. Suresh Linbio – 27 November 2007
A Technical desk officer - “Pulikalin Kural” Radio Station/ Killed when the radio station was bombed by Sri Lankan Air Force jets.

19. T.Tharmalingam – 27 November 2007
An engineer - “Pulikalin Kural” Radio Station/ Killed when the radio station was bombed by Sri Lankan Air Force jets.


20. Paranirupesingham Devakumar (34) – 28 May 2008
A television reporter - Sirasa and Shakthi TV channels / He was hacked to death as he was returning home. A friend who was with him was also killed in the attack.


21. Lasanntha Wickrematunga - “Sunday Leader” Editor / 08 January 2009
Gunned down in Colombo, while on his way to work.

22. Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy (37) - 12 February 2009
A journalist from Vanni, who worked for Canadian Tamil Radio, Canadian Multicultural Radio and Tamil Vision International television in Canada, all based in Canada. He was killed during an air raid on 12 February on Thevipuram, Mullaithivu.

23. Sasi Mathan (27) – 05 March 2009
A media worker and worked as the Mullaiththeevu District Distribution Manager of “Eelanaatham Daily”. / Killed in the Aananthapuram area in air raids.


Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.