In addition, having followed the developments in this case with grave concern, we wish to highlight the following issues with regard to the Prevention of Terrorism Act which defies principles of natural justice and is in violation of established human rights norms.
According to the judgment, writing or publishing any article that can be defined as being against the Prevention of Terrorism Act can merit a sentence of twenty years rigorous imprisonment under the terms of this Act. No journalist in Sri Lanka has ever received this type of sentence, which is a flagrant violation of media freedom. Thus, this judgment once again highlights the need to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act which violates human rights including the rights of the freedom of expression and opinion.
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka consider this judgment to represent a critical turning point in terms of restriction of media freedom through the law in Sri Lanka. We call on all democratic forces in Sri Lanka and outside to take all possible steps to ensure a reversal of this decision.
We feel that initiating a campaign for the repeal of the PTA in Sri Lanka must be a first step in this direction. We call on all democratic nations that enter into bilateral agreements with the government of Sri Lanka and on all donors to ensure that the repeal of the PTA is placed high on their list of critical concerns in negotiations with the government.
We wish to point out that every political party that has been involved in the creation and perpetuation of the PTA is complicit in the judgment against Tissainayagam. We appeal to all political parties and organizations committed to democratic principles to come forward to build the broadest possible platform to challenge the PTA. The repeal of the PTA is essential if we are to move towards disarmament in Sri Lanka.
We commit ourselves to work for the release of Tissainayagam and his colleagues V.Jesiharan and Valarmathy in the interests of justice and peace in Sri Lanka.