CPJ welcomes Tissainayagam pardon

May 3, 2010 10:52 AM ET

In response to news reports today that Sri Lanka will offer a full pardon to journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, we issued this statement.

"We are heartened by news reports that J.S.Tissainayagam appears to have been pardoned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. But there are still many points to be clarified. It is not clear if Tissa will have his full rights returned to him and be allowed to leave the country. It is worth noting that the anti-terrorist laws he was jailed under remain in place, too. Before we celebrate, we will need some more information,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.


When External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris announced the 'pardon' of Tissa from the 20 years' sentence he was very ambiguous as has always been.
The professor has been known to stump journalists with his academic parlance and it does not augur well for the Sri Lankan media to have the laws perverted to suit any government he chose to be with.
A brilliant academic GL fell into the honey-trap of desiring a top government post but appears to have no scruples notwithstanding his vast knowledge of law of which he is an expert.
PTA and Official Secrets Act of 1956 are still intact and his announcement of Tissa's pardon rather than letting the 13 day old media minister Mervin Silva, who has the dubious reputation of burning TV stations, assaulting and intimidating journalists does not bode well for the media in toto.
The President in his belated wisdom managed to strip him of Mervin's portfolio and offer his Highways instead.
The new Deputy Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was also the Secretary to GL and his personal friend when he (GL) held the Constitutional Affairs portfolio under Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Rambukwella is a hardliner and with GL to support him there is no way in the near future that SL would enjoy even a semblance of media freedom.
It is of utmost urgency that the international media monitoring bodies exert pressure on the SL govt. to give up its resistance to the freedom of expression and revoke ancient laws such as the OSA and PTA to abide with the rights of a free media and thus establish demcoracy; a dirty word for SL govt.

Pearl Thevanayagam May 5, 2010 6:40:06 PM ET


Sri Lankan gov is making things hard to release Tissa

"The Attorney General Mohan Peiris last week said that the procedure with regard to the Presidential pardon on jailed journalist would be finalized during the course of the week. The Attorney General had also said that the pardon would be effected simultaneous with the withdrawal of appeal filed by Tissainayagam before the Court of Appeal.

The AG also assured that it would not be necessary for journalist Tissaiinayagam to go back to prison even though the appeal from which he was bailed, is withdrawn.

“We would workout a way to effect the pardon simultaneous to withdrawal,” AG Peiris had said. When contacted yesterday a senior officer from the Attorney General’s Department said that a meeting had been held with the attorneys of journalist Tissainayagam and pardon would be effected in “a couple of days” from the withdrawal of the appeal from Court of Appeal.

“Once the Appeal is withdrawn necessary formalities will be done to officially handover the pardon,” spokesman who wants to remain anonymous told the Daily Mirror. Exactly two weeks ago, on May 3, External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiries announced that J. S. Tissainayagam would be freed on a Presidential Pardon."

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