‘Mr Jayantha had denied that he ever made a statement requesting investigations to be stopped’
A media watchdog in Sri Lanka has accused the government of misleading the United Nations over the plight of missing and tortured media personnel.
The Free Media Movement (FMM) says the former attorney general (AG) Mohan Peiris, who represented Sri Lanka “deliberately misled” the UN Committee against Torture (CaT).
Responding to the disappearance of political columnist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda, who is missing since January 2009, Mr Peiris said that the journalist has sought asylum abroad.
“Our current information is, that Mr. Ekneligoda has taken refuge in a foreign country,” Mohan Peiris said answering a question from a delegate.
Our current information is, that Mr. Ekneligoda has taken refuge in a foreign country
“I am not saying this with the tongue in my cheek. It is something that we are reasonably certain of. This is information that we have got through the media circles and that this is being played out for various reasons. I shouldn’t say more because the matter is being investigated,” he added.
Addressing media days after the statement, the missing journalist’s wife, Sandya, challenged to the government to disclose Prageeth’s whereabouts if the government is certain about his seeking asylum.
Serious charges withdrawn
The FMM says that it is “extremely concerned” why the government did not disclose that information to police, courts or to human rights commission.
“The government has also not provided this information to the parliament of Sri Lanka, where questions have been raised about Ekneligoda’s disappearance,” says the FMM.
The written statement submitted to the CaT by the government also states that the investigation on the serious assault of media union leader Poddala Jayantha was dropped based on Mr Jayantha’s statement.
“Mr Jayantha had denied that he ever made a statement requesting investigations to be stopped and demands that investigations continue,” the FMM statement issued by its convenor Sunil Jayasekara said.
Requesting the UN to raise concerns over the “misrepresentations” in its concluding observations, the watchdog further questions another “misleading statement” regarding the release of senior Tamil journalist JS Tissainayagam.
The government has claimed that Mr Tissainayagam, who was sentenced to 20 years under anti-terror laws, has admitted remorse for actions to receive a presidential pardon.
The journalist has denied having expressed regret as the government claims.
The FMM added that it is concerned that the “tone of the government response indicates that torture is accaeptable,” if somebody has admitted guilt.
Mohan Peiris’s move to withdrew murder and rape charges filed in high court against ruling party politicians Chandana Katriarachchi and Duminda Silva in his capacity as the AG was criticised by the then Chief Justice Asoka de Silva.
Writing in Sunday Times, senior counsel Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, however, criticised the CJ for not taking action against the former AG’s move.