CPJ asks Sri Lankan President to ensure improved climate for press freedom

Monday, 2 February 2015 00:59 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Congratulating newly elected Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on his victory, the New York-based international press freedom organisation, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) asked the President to ensure an improved climate for press freedom in the country. “As Sri Lanka readies itself for a new chapter in its history, we urge your Government to take concrete and meaningful steps to improve the climate for press freedom,” CPJ wrote in an open letter to President Sirisena. The media watchdog, pointing out that the country ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2014 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free, said since 2009 at least 14 Sri Lankan journalists have fled into exile, a devastating loss for the Sri Lankan community. The CPJ noted that the murder of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge remains unsolved with the killers are still at large and no progress has been made in the investigation into the disappearance of cartoonist and columnist Prageeth Eknaligoda. The press freedom organisation said they “eagerly await” progress on pledges the Government made to introduce a robust Right to Information bill in Parliament. “Such measures are essential to promote a culture of transparency and to help end corruption-key goals you identified before assuming office,” the CPJ wrote. CPJ reminded the President that during his candidacy, he pledged to follow a “100-day program” which would implement measures to “safeguard the independence of media personnel and institutions” and strengthen the right to freedom of expression. “Now, as president, you can take concrete steps to meet these commitments,” CPJ said. “President Sirisena, you have the opportunity to write a new chapter in your country’s history. Under your leadership, Sri Lanka can regain the confidence of its journalists by undertaking serious reforms that promote press freedom and an open and free press,” the organisation wrote.