Military personnel are seen in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on February 2, 2021. CPJ recently joined the Center for Justice and Accountability in calling for accountability in crimes against journalists in the country. (AFP/Ishara S. Kodikara)

CPJ joins call for accountability in attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka

The Committee to Protect Journalists joins the Center for Justice and Accountability in calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to take action against impunity in attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka.

In a report released today, the Center for Justice and Accountability, with support from CPJ, outlined the Sri Lankan government’s systematic and deadly campaign to silence journalists, repress press freedom, and perpetuate impunity for these attacks.

The report details the alleged involvement of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in a campaign designed to target journalists critical of the government and its security forces and the subsequent lack of justice and accountability. The attacks against journalists include the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the abduction and beating of Keith Noyahr, the assault on Upali Tennakoon, and the disappearance of Prageeth Eknelygoda

The report calls on members of the Human Rights Council to implement recommendations made by the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights including passing a resolution that establishes a dedicated mechanism to collect and preserve evidence to support future accountability processes, provides enhanced monitoring of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, and prioritizes support to civil society initiatives. It also calls on the government of Sri Lanka to immediately cease harassment, surveillance, and attacks on journalists and law enforcement officials investigating crimes against journalists and calls on the government to conduct independent and impartial investigations into past and current attacks on journalists and hold perpetrators to account.  

CPJ has documented recent attacks against journalists in Sri Lanka, as well as an environment of fear and self-censorship as a result of ongoing impunity.

Read the full report here