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
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 243 0590

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
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 (@)
Phone: +44 20 74050338
Fax: +44 20 74050339

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
rsf (@)
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

International Media Support (IMS)


Ban Ki-Moon
UN Secretary General
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017
Fax: +1 212 963 2155

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

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
Fax: +41 22 917 9006

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

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
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 9011