The International Federation of Journalists, co-author partner organisation International Media Support, and 37 signatory members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), including co-authors the Writers in Prison Committee – PEN International, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters sans Frontières, endorsed the following letter at IFEX’s General Meeting held in Beirut, Lebanon on May 30 and 31.
H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 243 0590
June 2, 2011
Dear Mr President,
Re: Invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
We, the undersigned members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), are writing with respect to 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.
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.
International Federation of Journalists
Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International
Committee to Protect Journalists
Reporters sans Frontières
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
Free Media Movement
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
National Union of Somali Journalists
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
UN Secretary General
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017
Fax: +1 212 963 2155
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
Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative
United Nations in Sri Lanka
202 – 204,
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