SRI LANKA: Threat to a journalist for reporting torture cases


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-24-2002
ISSUES: Freedom of expression,

SRI LANKA: Denial of the freedom of speech; intimidation and threat to journalist


Asian Human Rights commission (AHRC) is bring to your notice threat to a journalist for reporting torture cases – T.J. A Abeynayake, journalist of Island¡¯s new paper group

For your action, we are sending you a copy of a letter written by A Sri Lankan journalist, T.J. Abenayake, to the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, seeking protection from intimidation and threats to his and his families lives due to reporting some serious human rights cases against some officers of the Kandana Police in Sri Lanka.

The immediate threats concerns reporting of Lalith Rajapaks¡¯s case, after court hearings on 16 and 17 May 2002. Two reports and one editorial were written about the issue. Night visits by unknown persons to vicinity of his house, sound of guns have happened after that. His family great fears that some harm may happen to him.

We urge you to send letter to Sri Lankan authorities, urging them to intervene immediately and take appropriate steps to protect him.

A.J.A. Abeynayake

No. 390

Negombo Road


Hon. Chairperson

Human Rights Commission

Colombo 8

Dear Sir,


I, Abeynayakage Jusey Appuhamy Abeynayake, permanent resident of the above address, but temporarily residing at No113D, Peralanda, Ragama is 39 years of age and is a father of one child.

Up until now, while working as a district reporter for the “Island” newspaper, I also continue to work for a number of national papers as an independent district reporter. Besides, I have been functioning as a member of the editorial board of several weekend papers and magazines for over a period of six years, with quite expertise and experience. With the conviction that it is the main responsibility of a journalist to cover events and incidents with utmost impartiality, I worked hard as a reporter to reveal the real truth behind the mysterious death of Bernard Silva of Welisara while in the custody of the Kandana Police three years ago. Similarly in the recent past, the injustice done to the eighteen year old Lalith Rajapakse, who was so badly tortured by the police of the same police station had to struggled between life and death for fifteen days in the hospital, was divulged to the public by me.

In fact through the editorial of these paper by commenting on these incidents, we have tried to reflect the responsibility of the national papers which were also taken up human rights organizations both nationally and internationally.

Hon. Chairperson,

As a journalist of repute, I made reference to the above two reports, out of so many reports of injustices, not out of the desire for self justification or self satisfaction but to bring to your notice the serious threat posed to the members of my family and to me personally.

With the publication of the proceedings at the Wattala Magistrate Courts regarding the above mentioned case, a number of unknown persons that surrounded our house started knocking at our doors and windows at midnight thus inflicting severe pain and fear in our hearts and mind. In fact for the last three weeks this has been happening, compelling us to live in terrible fear for our lives. Besides, I have noticed that the same unknown persons are frequenting our street and the area surrounding our premises both day and night. On the 14th of this month at 1.30 in the morning, there were knocks on the windows by the unknown persons followed by a distinct sound of a gun being prepared for firing. About half an later, we heard these persons getting into a stationed vehicle and leaving our house. Due to these incidents and the warning received through one of my friends from the police that I should refrain from reporting the current events and those that happen at the police station, I have a reasonable fear that something terrible is about to befall on me and my family. Given the present atmosphere where attacks are made on the life and person of journalists for their impartiality and honesty, I wish to bring to your kind attention the fear for our work and life under which we are living now.

Even though no direct attempt has been made on my life or the life of our members of the family, I am writing this to seek your assistance to provide the necessary security so that our lives are safeguarded and the dignity of our work is upheld.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,
Signed (A.J.A abeynayake)

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Dear Sir,

I am writing to you about the case of T.J.A Abeynayake, a well-known journalist who is threatened after reporting two cases relating to Kankandana police.

I have read a translation of a copy of a letter the journalist had written to the National Human Rights Commission and feel concerned about his security. One of the cases he has reported is of Lalith Rajapakse, whose injuries were described, in medical report as injurious to life.

It is duty of a journalist to report matters with out fear. As you are well aware journalist need special protection from state. I kindly request you take urgent action to protect him.

Thank you

Sincerely yours,



1. Honourable Prime Minister

Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe

Cambridge Place

Colombo 7

Sri Lanka

Fax: 941 682-905 or 542919 (Secretary to the PM)

Email: (Secretary to the PM)

SALUTATION: Hon. Prime Minister

2. Hon. Mr. K.C. Kamalasabesan

Attorney General

Attorney – General’s Department

Colombo 12


Fax: +94 1 436 421

SALUTATION: Dear Attorney General

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-24-2002
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Freedom of expression,