The arrest and detention without charge of a senior journalist, Jayaprakash Tissainayagam for nearly a month is matter of grave concern that highlights the vulnerability of journalists to accusations of having links with the LTTE. The Supreme Court, which has granted him leave to proceed with a petition of fundamental rights violation, has declined an application for interim relief to release Mr Tissainayagam on any condition deemed fit after a confidential report was submitted to it by government lawyers.
In the meantime the Terrorist Investigation Department of the police has also obtained an order from a Magistrate’s Court to seal the printing press of which Mr Tissainayagam is a director. This action has been taken against them for allegedly aiding the LTTE and attempting to tarnish the good name of the government by publishing distorted and false propaganda.
The National Peace Council accepts that all persons need to follow the law and not engage in illegal activities. However, journalists are particularly vulnerable in situations of conflict to which the government is a party as they are duty bound to cover all sides of the conflict. A responsible journalist will be motivated to make contact with all conflicting parties to ascertain the all facts pertaining to the conflict.
The National Peace Council requests the government to press charges, if any, against Mr Tissainayagam without delay or release him on bail if at this time it is unable to gather the quantum of information required to press ahead with legal charges. We are deeply concerned as Mr Tissainayagam has been an activist and colleague of long standing and repute in the fields of human rights and peace and his prolonged detention serves as a warning of the perils of engaging in such work.
On behalf of the Governing Council