Journalist Tissainayagam: Over 100 days in Detention without Charge

 

19th June,2008/ Senior journalist J. S. Tissainayagam, who was a regular columnist for The Sunday Times and the Editor of www.outreachsl.com completed 100 days in detention on 15th June 2008. He was detained on 6th March 2008 by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka Police. He is detained under powers granted by Emergency Regulations currently in force, and has been given no specific and legally valid reasons for his detention at the time or since. We further understand that on 5th June 2008, the TID obtained new detention order for a further 90 days.

We further understand that although he has been eventually produced before court, partly as a result of a fundamental rights petition filed by him, the courts have not felt able to order his release even though he has not been charged, and further that even basic standards of procedural justice such as confidentiality of consultations with his lawyers, have not been guaranteed. We also learn that on the first occasion in which he was due to be produced before the courts, the TID repeatedly failed to do so.
 
At the time of his arrest, media organisations collectively requested that his rights to personal liberty, equality before the law, and to humane treatment be respected. We also urged that the authorities take steps to charge him as soon as possible, if there was sufficient evidence to sustain a prosecution against him under the laws of Sri Lanka. After 100 days of detention, however, the authorities have been unable to frame any charges, making it abundantly clear that they have no credible evidence against Tissainayagam.

As we have noted in our previous statements calling for his immediate release, Tissainayagam suffers from an eye aliment that can be aggravated by stress. We reiterate the call that his right to proper health care has to be respected whilst in detention.
 
N. Jasiharan, owner of E-Kwality press and manager of www.outreachsl.com, as well as his partner, Valarmathi, too have been in detention for more than 100 days now.  Jasiharan has submitted to court that he was assaulted by the TID whilst in detention. Valarmathi has had no professional connections with www.outreachsl.com and her continued unconscionable detention is a source of grave consternation.
 
We strongly call upon the authorities to respect fundamental rights of all three detainees, and if no charges can be brought against them, as seems unlikely given that the authorities have been unable to do so after 100 days of detention, to release them forthwith.
 
We also call upon all those who cherish democratic freedoms and the Rule of Law, and who reject authoritarianism, the abuse of fundamental human rights, and the culture of impunity, to raise their voice for the release of Tissainayagam. It is an indelible stain on the collective conscience of our society that three of our fellow citizens, Tissainayagam, Jasiharan and Valarmathi, continue to languish in detention without charge, or with any prospect of justice in sight.

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