Joint action: IFEX members urge Sri Lankan authorities to accommodate visit of UN Special Rapporteur

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
(CPJ/IFJ/RSF/WiPC/IFEX) - 1 June 2011 - Free expression advocates from around the world gathered this week in Beirut, Lebanon, at the 16th IFEX General Meeting. Groups signed on to the following letter urging President Rajapaksa to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, to Sri Lanka: H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa President Presidential Secretariat Colombo 1 Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Fax: +94 11 243 0590 priu@presidentsoffice.lk Dear Mr President, We, the undersigned members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), are writing with respect to a request that, as the President of Sri Lanka, you invite to Sri Lanka the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue. In Mr La Rue’s 2011 report to the UN Human Rights Council, he identifies for the second consecutive year that a request is pending for him to conduct a mission to Sri Lanka in his official capacity (1). For Mr La Rue to make an official visit to Sri Lanka, he requires an invitation from your Government. As you are aware, the international community of press freedom organisations has repeatedly expressed concerns about the state of media freedom and journalists’ safety in Sri Lanka. As we gather together for IFEX’s bi-annual conference in Beirut, Lebanon, we are pleased to note that no journalist was confirmed as killed in Sri Lanka in 2010. However, we remain deeply worried for our colleagues who continue to be subjected to threats, harassment, arson and assaults with alarming regularity. We, the undersigned, believe that Sri Lanka’s reputation in the international community would be greatly enhanced if the Government were to officially invite Mr La Rue to visit your country. Such an invitation would indicate your Government’s good faith and transparent commitment to the rule of law and the principle of universal human rights. We also hope that in anticipation of a visit by the Special Rapporteur that the Government of Sri Lanka will be able to make significant progress in investigating the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda, who has been missing since he disappeared in Sri Lanka on January 24, 2010. We are concerned also for the welfare of Prageeth’s colleagues at Lanka-e-News, who have been subject to a series of attacks over the past year, including assault, arson and politically instigated harassment by the police and courts. Similarly, we would welcome the opportunity for you to advise Mr La Rue on progress in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the murder of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge on January 8, 2009. We respectfully request that the Government of Sri Lanka commit every reasonable effort to accommodate the requests for a visit by Mr La Rue, and assist with requests from any other international agency in investigating the status of press freedom in your country. Yours respectfully, International Federation of Journalists International Press Centre, Residence Palace Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 155 1040 Brussels Belgium Phone: +32 2 2352207 Fax: +32 2 2352219 Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International Brownlow House 50-51 High Holborn London WC1V 6ER United Kingdom wipc (@) pen-international.org Phone: +44 20 74050338 Fax: +44 20 74050339 Committee to Protect Journalists 330 7th Ave., 11th Floor New York, NY 10001 USA info (@) cpj.org Phone: +1 212 465 1004 Fax: +1 212 465 9568 Reporters Without Borders 47, rue Vivienne 75002 Paris France rsf (@) rsf.org Phone: +33 1 44 83 84 84 Fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51 Arabic Network for Human Rights Information ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression Association of Caribbean Media Workers Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Center for Media Studies & Peace Building Centre for Independent Journalism Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Freedom Forum Freedom House Free Media Movement Globe International Hong Kong Journalists Association Independent Journalism Center Index on Censorship IPS Communication Foundation Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation) Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance Media Foundation for West Africa Media Institute of Southern Africa Media Rights Agenda Media Watch Mizzima News National Union of Somali Journalists Norwegian PEN Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création Pacific Islands News Association Pakistan Press Foundation Public Association "Journalists" Southeast Asian Press Alliance South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers NON-IFEX MEMBER SIGNATORY: International Media Support (IMS) CC: Ban Ki-Moon UN Secretary General United Nations Headquarters New York, NY 10017 Fax: +1 212 963 2155 ecu@un.org Navi Pillay UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland civilsociety@ohchr.org Frank La Rue UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland Fax: +41 22 917 9006 freedex@ohchr.org Subinay Nandy Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative United Nations in Sri Lanka 202 – 204, Bauddhaloka Mawatha Colombo 07 Sri Lanka Fax : +94 11 2581116 undp.all.lk@undp.org Human Rights Council Advisory Committee Human Rights Council Secretariat Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais Wilson, United Nations Office at Geneva CH-1211, Geneva 10 Switzerland Fax: +41 (0)22 917 9011 hrcadvisorycommittee@ohchr.org

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