Written Statement – HRC29, Item 3: Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka
18 June 2015 6:26 pm
Freedom of expression was heavily suppressed under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Journalists, media personnel, freedom of expression advocates and human rights defenders, as well as their families, lived and carried out their work under threats of death, serious injury, arrest, interrogation, intimidation and being discredited publicly. In the period described in this report, at least one journalist survived a murder attempt. Frequently, media personnel were obstructed from doing their work by members of the police, the military, and violent pro-government extremist mobs. Newspapers and businesses associated with the press were harassed and intimidated. When called upon by those affected to investigate a case, the police typically made little progress, creating a pervasive atmosphere of impunity. This was reflected in a statement by Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya on behalf of the Ministry of Defense: that there has not been a single attack on journalists reported in the past few years.
At the 8th January 2015 elections, President Rajapakse was unseated by the current President Maithripala Sirisena. Under President Sirisena, the situation for freedom of expression has improved, however, many challenges remain.