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UN Human Rights Committee complaint filed over Lasantha murder

Photograph courtesy Centre for Justice and Accountability.

Ahimsa Wickrematunge the daughter of murdered journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge has filed a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee over the alleged Sri Lankan government involvement in her father’s death 12 years ago.

The Centre for Justice and Accountability, an international human rights organisation based in San Francisco, filed the complaint on behalf of Ahimsa Wickrematunge. Her father Lasantha was allegedly killed by a military-linked hit squad while driving to work on Jan. 8, 2009.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was a critic of the Rajapaksa regime, and the complaint details that he was killed a few days before he was to testify in a defamation cased filed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa over an article implicating him in a corruption scandal involving the purchase of fighter planes. On the day of his killing, Wickrematunge was followed by men on motorbikes and when he stopped at a busy intersection, they smashed his car window and punched a hole in his head with a sharp instrument.

The complaint says law enforcement agencies either failed to conduct a credible investigation or actively interfered with attempts to conduct one.

A new probe was initiated after Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the presidential election in 2015 but political infighting in the new government prevented a conclusion to the case.

There has been no progress in the investigation since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected president.

Attacks on Journalists

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Over the years press freedom has been a worrying issue on the island and journalists many whom are Tamil, speaking out against rights abuses have found themselves targeted with intimidation, harassment and worse. According to Together Against Genocide, from 2004 to 2009 over 48 journalists and media workers were reported killed, 41 of whom were Tamil.

Today in the North-East, Tamil journalists face continued harassment and excessive surveillance. Heavy militarisation in North-East and a lack of press freedom has meant Tamil journalists have been targeted and beaten in recent months.

Read more at VoA News.

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Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

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