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Sri Lanka: IFJ Welcomes Progress in Eknaligoda Case

Media Release: Sri Lanka
March 7, 2011

IFJ Welcomes Progress in Prageeth Eknaligoda Case in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes reports that a habeas corpus petition submitted by the family of missing Lanka-e-News cartoonist and columnist Prageeth Eknaligoda will be considered by a court of appeal in Sri Lanka on May 26.

Eknaligoda’s wife Sandhya filed the petition with a Colombo court in August 2010, after six hearings into the case of Prageeth’s disappearance on January 24, 2010 yielded no significant progress. Senior State Counsel Sameendra Wickrama confirmed that objections to the petition had already been filed and encouraged the petitioners’ counsel Krishmal Warnakulasuriya to file counter-objections, according to local media reports.

The news of the petition’s consideration comes after the Eknaligoda family’s calls for diplomatic pressure and international solidarity actions by the IFJ and other organisations to help expedite investigations into Prageeth’s disappearance. Sandhya Eknaligoda requested the assistance of the United Nations in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shortly after the first anniversary of her husband’s disappearance in January. IFJ affiliates from around the world showed their solidarity by contacting their local Sri Lankan missions to express their concerns at the police and security agencies’ failure to trace the missing journalist.

“While it is disappointing that this petition is only being considered now, more than a year after Prageeth Eknaligoda disappeared, any progress in investigating his whereabouts is most welcome,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“The IFJ joins defenders of human rights and press freedom worldwide in demanding authorities seize this opportunity to conduct legitimate investigations into Prageeth’s disappearance.”

Eknaligoda vanished two days before Sri Lanka’s presidential election of January 26, 2010, amid a deepening safety crisis for journalists and media workers in the country.

ENDS

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