PEN International condemns the attack against Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly on February 15, 2013, apparently in retaliation for his journalistic work. PEN welcomes the launch of an official investigation into the attack, but notes with alarm that over a dozen media workers have reportedly been killed in Sri Lanka over the past decade and no one has been brought to justice for any of these attacks. It reminds the Sri Lankan authorities of their commitments to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory, and urges the government to take all necessary steps to end the culture of impunity in the country by vigourously investigating all attacks on journalists so that those responsible are brought to justice.  

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Background Information

Investigative journalist Faraz Shauketaly, aged 52, was at his home in Mount Lavinia, Colombo, on the evening of February 15, when three armed men broke into his room on the top floor of his house and shot him in the neck. Shauketaly was reportedly on the phone discussing the content of the next edition of the Sunday Leader with its editor when the attack occurred. The journalist was taken to the hospital, and after surgery he is said to be out of danger.

It has been reported that some weeks ago, unknown men approached the journalist’s home and asked about his whereabouts in a threatening manner.  

Faraz Shauketaly has both Sri Lankan and British citizenship.  

According to the Sri Lankan president’s spokesperson, Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered a special investigation into the shooting. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is said to be in charge of the investigation.

The Sunday Leader, a newspaper known for its criticism of the government, has suffered a number of threats and attacks against its staff, including the assassination of its editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was gunned down in January 2009, and the death threats against its editor Frederica Jansz, most recently in July 2012.

Journalists, writers, and media outlets commonly suffer intimidation and violence in Sri Lanka, a situation that has continued in spite of commitments to protect freedom of expression by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After 25 years of conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers, victory over the Tigers was declared by President Rajapaksa on May 16, 2009. Rajapaksa went on to win a landslide victory in the presidential elections of January 26, 2010. However, the outcome was rejected by many, including his main opposition rival and former army chief General Sarath Fonseka. General Fonseka was arrested on February 8, 2010, on charges of conspiracy, and was convicted several months later. In April 2010, Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections. Later in the year, MPs passed a constitutional amendment allowing President Rajapaksa to stand for unlimited terms in office. Since the end of the war the state of free expression in Sri Lanka is widely believed to have deteriorated, with increased state control enabling in a "culture of terror" to flourish, resulting in widespread self-censorship and many journalists fleeing the country.

Write A Letter

  • Calling on the Sri Lankan authorities to do all in its power to bring the attackers of journalist Faraz Shauketaly to justice;
  • Expressing deep concern about the implications this incident has on the state of free expression and journalists’ safety in Sri Lanka, where a culture of impunity prevails;
  • Urging the Sri Lankan government to make clear its commitments to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression as per its obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Send Your Letter To

His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2446657
Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk

Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General
Attorney General's Department,
Colombo 12
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2 436421

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