Prageeth_family CREDIT CPJ.jpg
Prageeth Eknelygoda's wife and sons are still seeking information on him. (CPJ)

A heads-up for Sri Lanka press freedom watchers

By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator on June 1, 2012 12:55 PM ET

Former Attorney General Mohan Peiris has been ordered to testify about a statement he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011, in which he said that Prageeth Eknelygoda was alive and living outside the country (see "Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen"). Peiris will have to appear at the Homogama Magistrate's Court in Colombo on June 5, next Tuesday, which has been hearing the case brought by Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, to learn more about his disappearance on January 24, 2010.

Government lawyers had argued against making Peiris appear and testify, saying that doing so amounted to harassment of a government official (see "In Sri Lanka: Protecting Peiris, hounding victim's family"). But if he doesn't show up, he will be violating the Appeal Court's decision ordering his appearance. Of course, he could feign illness and not appear--or the government's lawyers could find another stalling tactic in this case, which has been going on for years. Peiris is now the senior legal adviser to the cabinet, and many Sri Lankans say he is aiming to become the next Supreme Court Chief Justice--so you can be sure he has the government's backing in whatever he plans to do on Tuesday.

If you're not well acquainted with the case, here's some background:

For almost two years, the Eknelygoda family has been asking the Sri Lankan government for any information about Prageeth, who was a columnist and cartoonist. Not one government official has given them any information, and despite claims that the case remains under investigation, there has been no movement in the case other than new court dates being set for the Homogama Magistrate's Court.

In March 2011, CPJ and four other groups sent a letter asking U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to have the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO look into Eknelygoda's case, but there has been no apparent movement from within the United Nations. Sandhya's personal appeal to Shiranthi Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's wife, has also gone unanswered.

Members of Colombo's diplomatic corps have made it a point to attend the Homogama hearings, which come about once a month. Although they are dragging on inconclusively, the hearings seem to be one of the few options left for Sandhya Eknelygoda and her two teenage sons to discover the truth about Prageeth.


If Mr. Mohan Peries will appear and say the name of a Sri Lankan who are living in abroad saying he/she is the person who told him; he will get release from the court due to statement he made at the UN saying he made an irresponsible statement. Otherwise court should summon the said Sri Lankan who is in abroad which is impractical. What is the value of calling Mr. Peries.? Only it will be value for people who need to criticize the government for making wrong statement at the UN of their representative. I think Mrs. Ekanaligoda is using such people than helping to find any information about her husband.

S. Kariyakarawana June 2, 2012 6:41:23 PM ET

Raha hora is the who gave orders to disappear him for good because of his cartoons against this corrupt criminal dictator.

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