2010: Sri Lanka: Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam

Bergen, 22. January 2010

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

Dear Minister
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

H. M. G.  S.  Palihakkara
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
#630, 3rd Avenue (20th Floor)
New York  10017
United States America
mail@slmission.com
Fax +1 (212) 986-1838

Your Excellencies,

As a member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN, I welcome the release on bail of Tamil journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam.

Tissainayagam was detained in March and sentenced to twenty years in prison for his critical writings. A High Court in Sri Lanka sentenced him 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.

On 11 January 2010 Tissainayagam was granted release on bail pending appeal. The Appeal Court has ordered him to pay 50,000 Rupees (approx US $500), and to surrender his passport. The appeals process could take up to two years unless expedited by the attorney-general.

I seek your assurance, Your Excellencies, to urge the authorities to abide their obligations protecting free expression when hearing Tissainayagam’s appeal, under Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party

Confident that you, Your Excellencies, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely,
Trine Kleven

Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN
Wergelandsveien 29
0167 Oslo
Norway
www.norskpen.no

Copy is sent to:

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Norway
Sjølyst Plass 4
0278 Oslo
Norway
Telephone:   +47 23 13 69 50
Fax number: +47 23 31 70 90
Email Address: embassy@srilanka.no