Sri Lanka

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 18th January 2010.

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Photo of Keith Simpson Keith Simpson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of levels of press freedom in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We are aware of the serious threats against media personnel who are critical of the Government of Sri Lanka and monitor the subject closely. On 27 October 2009, the EU expressed its concern about reports of severe harassment of journalists, restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. We regularly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take decisive action to guarantee press freedom.

In August journalist JS Tissainayagam was sentenced to 20 years following a conviction related to his writing. We are concerned about the message this sentence sends on the state of media freedoms in Sri Lanka. Mr. Tissainayagam was granted bail this week pending the outcome of his appeal. We are monitoring developments in the case closely.

Investigations have so far failed to identify those responsible for the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the Editor of The Sunday Leader, who was shot dead in Colombo on 8 January 2009. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently wrote to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 11 January 2010 to urge his Government to do everything possible to investigate the killing and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

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