Colombo, Media and Communications

Journalist J.S. Tissainayagam released on bail: Implications for freedom of expression

Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam was enlarged on bail today pending the appeal of his conviction under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Groundviews spoke with Asanga Welikala, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, for his views on this development and its implications for media freedom and the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. For a Sinhala interview with Asanga, click on Vikalpa Video here.

Groundviews repeatedly flagged the case of Tissainayagam as a significant affront to media freedom and the freedom of expression. Nimalka Fernando, a leading human rights activist, even called his conviction a travesty of justice.

A compelling article on Tissanaiyagam’s case, written by a supporter of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and read well over five thousand times to date is The sentencing J.S Tissainayagam: Not in my name! by Sandun Ratnaweera. Sandun’s article, published on Groundviews in September 2009, highlighted a vital point:

“I heard today that Daya Master the LTTE Media head had been released on bail and that according to the Daily Mirror the CID found that they had committed “no crime under the prevention of terrorism act.” If Daya Master, whose only livelihood for the last 30 years was blatant LTTE propaganda and who obviously drew a pay check from the LTTE every month is, in the eyes of our courts, not guilty of any crime under the PTA, I am really at a loss to understand the sentence handed down to Tissainayagam.”

It is a point no one from Government, to date, has even attempted to answer.