Honored for their work, threatened at home CPJ introduces 2009 International Press Freedom Awardees Washington, November 19, 2009—Naziha Réjiba, editor of the Tunisian online news journal Kalima, said she knows what to expect when she returns home—surveillance, harassment, and threats conducted by one the world’s most repressive governments. “While I’m speaking, many homes of Tunisian journalists are completely surrounded,” Réjiba, one of four recipients of the 2009 International Press Freedom Awards, told reporters at the National Press Club today, describing state surveillance. The Committee to Protect Journalists gives the awards each year to courageous journalists working in dangerous and repressive circumstances. At today’s press conference, CPJ also introduced awardee Mustafa Haji Abdinur, an Agence France-Presse correspondent and editor-in-chief of Radio Simba in Somalia. Two other CPJ awardees, J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka and Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan, were recognized but not present: They are imprisoned in their home countries in retaliation for their work.(more)

The Tissanayagam Felicitation Ceremony

Please see photo gallery Jayathilake Bandara sings about Thissainayagam at Felicitation Ceramony held in Colombo on 7 th October. This song made by Manjula Wediwardane on 31 August the date thissa was Sentanced
Sri Lankan journalist J.S Tissainayagam rewarded by the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism
Global Media Forum and the US branch of Reporters Without Borders have formally awarded the respected Sri Lankan journalist and editor J. S. Tissainayagam as first winner of the Peter Mackler Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 2, 2009. His wife, Ronnate Tissainayagam, was present at the ceremony to receive the Award. “For the last 20 years my husband has endeavoured to pursue the goals that Mr.Mackler believed in as a journalist. Like Peter, my husband was never too busy to encourage those who wanted to learn to write and has helped many in journalism. Today my husband is continuing to teach me courage and grace in difficult times. For him no matter what the circumstances are; there is no excuse for unkindness. No matter what circumstance fellow human beings must be treated with dignity », said Ronnate Tissainayagam. J. S Tissainayagam is a respected Tamil journalist and editor who wrote for the North Eastern Monthly Magazine and the Sunday Times in Sri Lanka. And is the founder of the website Outreachsl.com. He was arrested March 7, 2008 by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka police and got a 20 year sentence on terrorism charges today on August 31st.(more)
ICJ Condemns Misuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws to Prosecute Sri Lankan Journalist, J. S. Tissainayagam 11 September 2009 Today the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) released its Trial Observation Report (http://www.icj.org/IMG/ICJ_Tissa_Trial_Observation_Report_11_Sept_09.pdf) regarding proceedings before the Colombo High Court in the prosecution of J.S. Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist. On 31 August 2009, Mr Tissainayagam was convicted under anti-terrorism laws and sentenced by Judge Deepali Wijesundara to 20 years “rigorous imprisonment.” (more) ---------------------------------------------- Blow to media freedomThe August 31 verdict of a Colombo High Court sentencing the veteran journalist and columnist J.S. Tissainayagam to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment under the country’s draconian anti-terror law has raised concerns across the world on the ...
CPJ award goes to jailed Sri Lankan journalist New York, August 31,2009. The Committee to Protect Journalists announced today that it will honor imprisoned Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam with a 2009 International Press Freedom Award. Tissainayagam, left, sentenced today to 20 years in prison on specious charges of violating anti-terror laws, is one of five journalists who will be honored by CPJ at a ceremony in November. The full slate of awardees, selected by CPJ's Board of Directors this summer, will be formally announced in September. A Colombo High Court sentenced Tissainayagam to 20 years of hard labor in the first conviction of a journalist under the country's harsh anti-terror laws. Tissainayagam, known as Tissa, suffers from poor health and said his confession to the charge was extracted under threat of torture, according to his lawyers. (more)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Court overrules submission to transfer Tissainayagam to prison

By T. Farook Thajudeen

The Colombo Chief Magistrate, yesterday, made order to continue the detention of journalist J.S.S. Tissainayagam, V. Jesiheren and Valarmadi Vaduvel with the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID).
The magistrate in his order stated that the suspects were detained by the TID on detention orders of the Defence Secretary, and produced before in court on the pleadings of the suspects’ counsel, and court had no jurisdiction to make order to remand them in prison.
On May 5 they were not produced in court, and the TID had informed court that they were taken away for some investigations. Accordingly the case was called on June 26, and the suspects were produced in court on that day. They were produced in court on that day on the application of the suspects’ counsel made on June 23.
On that day the seventh suspect’s counsel had complained that the fifth suspect had been tortured at the TID. The court ordered the TID to produce the suspect before the JMO for examination and report. The TID were also ordered to file a report.
The suspects’ counsel had subsequently brought to the attention of the court the Emergency Regulations of August 13, 2008, and submitted that detaining them with the TID was illegal since 90 days had already elapsed. Even under a valid detention order the question arises about the place of detention, he said.
The magistrate stated the question before the court was whether court had jurisdiction to remand them in prison
There is no jurisdiction for the magistrate to release the suspect without the Attorney General’s consent, according to the provisions of Bail Act, although the magistrate has the jurisdiction to enlarge suspects in bail when a suspect was detained for 90 days. If the OIC is of the opinion that the suspect should be released, the OIC is empowered to do so
On the lapse of 90 days, if the OIC is not continuing the investigating, the suspect should be produced in court for the court to make appropriate order.
If there is proof that the suspects had committed an offence and the investigations were not completed, they could be further detained, according to the Defence Secretaries Gazette notification. At the end of 90 days if the suspects were produced in court, it means that the investigations were concluded.
In this case the TID did not produce the suspects in court at the conclusion of the investigations.
In this case counsel for one of the suspects complained to court that the suspect had been assaulted and court ordered the TID to produce him before the JMO for examination and report.
At this stage the TID did not voluntarily produce the suspects in court. Neither had the TID reported that the investigations were concluded. Therefore to detain the suspect in a prison would result in the judiciary being found fault with for rupturing the investigations of the TID.
Accordingly, court dismissed the counsels’ pleadings and made order to detain the suspects with the TID.
The magistrate allowed an application to allow Tissainayagam to obtain a pair of spectacles after testing his eyes at the Eye Hospital. The case will be called on September 5
Counsel M. A. Sumanthiran and K.V. Thavarasha appeared for the suspects.

Silent demo. for Tissa’s release

By Kurulu Kariyakarawana

Journalists, human rights activists and members of the clergy held a silent demonstration outside the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court premises yesterday, demanding the immediate release of detained columnist J S Tissainayagam.
Journalists representing five media organizations: the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists’ Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions and the Free Media Movement, took part in the demonstration, which continued for a couple of hours.
The demonstrators displayed placards calling for the immediate release of Mr. Tissainayagam, who has been in detention for more than 100 days.
Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association President Sanath Balasooriya said the journalist had been detained on suspicion at the Terrorist Investigation Division for over 115 days without any charges being framed against him.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Request to release journalist Tissanayagam -

A media that operates independently plays a very important role in ensuring the healthy and meaningful functioning of a government. Keeping the public informed and developing a sense about their own rights is amongst the important roles played by media.

Suppression of media freedom is am indicator of an unhealthy society. It is the duty of any democratic society to ensure the growth of a media tradition that understands the pulse of the people.

When we look at the present government, it appears that some incidents take place without the knowledge of responsible authorities of the government. The invasion of the state television station by a government minister is one example. It was clear that a small incident developed into a situation that was unfavorable to the government.

Although many recent incidents have taken place with the involvement of some people, they had resulted in the government being placed in an unfavorable situation before the people. A situation that will warrant the intervention of the President into each small incident should be avoided. It seems that there are responsible and experienced ministers within the present cabinet.

Therefore, if defense authorities have suspicions about journalist Tissanayagam, they should investigate the facts in a clear manner and take up the matter in courts.

It is not proper, particularly in the present context, that the government continues to keep him in prolonged detention.

Therefore, if no court proceedings are initiated, I call on relevant authorities to release him soon.

Ven. Baddegama Samitha Thero
Ex Member of Parliament
Member of the Baddegama Pradeshiya SabhA
Polibureau Member poliburea, Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP)

27th June 2008

Colombo High Court convicts journalist JS Tissanayagam under prevntion of Terrorism Act, sentences to 20 years rigorous imprisonment