New York, August 24, 2015–At least four Sri Lankan army officers were arrested on Monday and accused of involvement in the January 2010 disappearance of Prageeth Eknelygoda, a political cartoonist and columnist, according to news reports. Another army officer and two civilians were arrested earlier this month, reports said. The arrests come following a pledge by President Maithripala Sirisena to reopen the investigation into Eknelygoda’s case.
“We are encouraged by progress in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda. If the government of President Maithripala Sirisena resolves the journalist’s disappearance, the Eknelygoda family will finally be able to find some closure in their long search for justice,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Still, Eknelygoda’s case is only one. At least nine journalists were murdered in direct relation to their work under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa, first as prime minister and then as president. It is important for the new government to bring all of those killers to justice and break Sri Lanka’s cycle of impunity once and for all.”
Eknelygoda, a journalist for the news website Lanka eNews, went missing days before the 2010 presidential elections. He had reported on alleged corruption among family members of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, according to his wife, Sandhya Eknelygoda. CPJ has repeatedly called on Sri Lankan authorities to investigate Eknelygoda’s disappearance and hold the perpetrators to account. Sri Lanka was ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2014 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free.
- For more on Sri Lanka, visit CPJ’s Sri Lanka page.