International PEN welcomes the release on bail of Tamil journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam (J. S.) Tissainayagam, who was detained in March 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his critical writings. PEN considers Tissainayagam to be convicted in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory. PEN urges the authorities to abide by their obligations to the international treaties protecting the freedom of expression when hearing his appeal.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, on January 11, 2010, J. S. Tissainayagam was granted release on bail pending appeal. The Appeal Court has ordered him to pay 50,000 Rupees (approx U.S. $500) and to surrender his passport. The appeal process could take up to two years unless expedited by the attorney general.

On August 31, 2009, a High Court in Sri Lanka sentenced J. S. Tissainayagam to 20 years’ imprisonment with hard labor under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), for “causing communal disharmony” in his articles published in 2006 by the magazine North-Eastern Monthly. He was also found guilty of raising funds to publish the magazine. An allegedly forced confession made by Tissainayagam while in police custody was used as evidence to convict him.

A Tamil journalist for the Sunday Times newspaper and editor of Outreach Sri Lanka, J. S. Tissainayagam was arrested on March 7, 2008, by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Colombo. The day before, March 6, his colleague V. Jasikaran (Jasiharan), owner of the E-Kwality printing works and reporter for the news web site Outreach Sri Lanka, was arrested with his wife. The couple was released in October 2009, after the State Prosecutor announced that there was no evidence to support the charge that the couple had links with terrorist acts or organizations.

Initial reports suggested that both journalists were accused of receiving money from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) rebel group. However, it is widely believed that they were targeted for their reporting and analysis on the conflict between government forces and the LTTE in the northern part of the country.

Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release of Tamil journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam; 
  • Urging the authorities to abide their obligations protecting the freedom of expression when hearing Tissainayagam’s appeal, under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2446657
Salutation: Your Excellency

Hon. Amarasiri Dodangoda
Minister of Justice and Law Reforms
Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms
Superior Courts Complex
Colombo 12
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2445447
Salutation: Dear Minister

H. M. G.  S.  Palihakkara
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
630 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10017  
Email: mail@slmission.com
Fax: (212) 986-1838

Please send a copy of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sri Lanka in your country if possible.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after February 28, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org