HRW: Colombo abuses anti-terror laws to muzzle media

[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 December 2008, 08:59 GMT]
Accusing Sri Lanka Government for “shamefully using antiterrorism laws to silence peaceful critics in the media," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a press release Monday that, "[t]his is no way for a government that claims to be a rights-respecting democracy to act." HRW demanded Colombo to drop charges and free J.S. Tissainayagam, a prominent Tamil journalist on trial for his writings, and Tamil publisher couple N. Jasiaharan and V.Valarmathy who were also arbitrarily arrested.

Human Rights Watch said that the written passages over which Tissainayagam has been charged reflect mere opinions about the conduct of the armed conflict between the government and the LTTE.

“The rights to freedom of opinion and expression are protected under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sri Lanka is a party. Although the covenant allows for certain restrictions on freedom of expression on grounds of national security, the terms of any such restriction must be specific and narrowly tailored to prevent against arbitrariness and to ensure that the internationally recognized human rights of all individuals are protected,” the media release said.

"The government's disregard for the basic rights and well-being of three well-known detainees raises even greater concerns for the hundreds of others detained under the security laws," the HRW media quoted Adams as saying.


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