Lawyers for Democracy condemns arson attack on Lanka e News and Calls for an independent inquiry

Lawyers for Democracy condemns arson attack on Lanka e News and Calls for an independent inquiry

Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) is shocked with the attack and destruction of the Lanka e News premises in the early hours of 31st January 2011. This is one among a long list of events where media institutions and individuals have come under attack in the last few years, and another one in a post war context.

Lanka e News has been under constant attacks in recent years with its editor having to leave Sri Lanka due to threats and Prageeth Ekneligoda, a cartoonist with the institution, disappearing on 24th January 2010. The present attack comes just a few days after the one year anniversary was marked for Ekneligoda’s disappearance, a case that remains unresolved. LfD hold the present administration of Mahinda Rajapakse responsible for this present attack, a direct and cowardly attack against freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. During the Rajapakse regime there have been a string of attacks against media institutions, civil society and any other who is vocal and critical of the government. The space for dissent is at its most vulnerable with continuing threats and attacks. LfD has no doubt that without direct or indirect sanctions from political authorities, such attackers cannot survive. Despite many killings of journalists and attacks on media institutions, not a single case has been successfully investigated or prosecuted, resulting in the exacerbation of the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka. As with previous cases, a predictable line is being taken by the administration by accusing “unknown forces” with this attack and with little hope of a credible investigation being conducted. It is imperative that the authorities conduct an independent and impartial inquiry into this and other incidents, shedding truth to what happened and bringing to justice the perpetrators. Such a measure is essential in this post war setting to demonstrate to the public that the Government is genuine in their protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and other legal norms and that steps are being taken to end the culture of impunity. Lal Wijenayake Attorney-at-Law, Convener/ Spokesperson Lawyers for Democracy

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