October 19, 2019
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“The assault on a free press in Sri Lanka extends beyond Uthayan. The BBC Tamil-language service has had its programs about Sri Lanka and the Human Rights Council censored. Reporters have been physically assaulted and murdered in years past, and a prominent political cartoonist has been missing for three years,” he said.The State Department official said that Sri Lankan authorities have been urged to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and freedom of expression by conducting thorough investigations into all attacks and killings of journalists and bringing perpetrators to justice. Uthayan has seen its personnel beaten, its newspaper shipments burned, its equipment destroyed, and its offices set ablaze in this last month alone. He also said that as the US continues its ‘Free the Press; campaign, they will highlight the case of Uthayan, the Tamil-language newspaper based in Jaffna. The United States (US) says it will continue to support the need for justice and accountability for serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.Acting Deputy Spokesperson at the US State Department Patrick Ventrell said that the US government has seen the Amnesty International report on Sri Lanka released yesterday and note that it echoes many of the concerns the US raised in its own Human Rights Report. “We urge Sri Lankan authorities to protect freedom of expression. The necessity of upholding this fundamental right was not only a component of the UN Human Rights Council resolution in Geneva this March, but it was a central recommendation of the Sri Lankan Government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission,” he said.Asked what the US will do with regards to Sri Lanka in future, Ventrell said they will continue to work with the Sri Lankans bilaterally.“We’re going to continue to work with interested parties that include a number of people quite frankly in the international community who are deeply concerned. And so we’ll continue to do so bilaterally, but we’ll also continue to do so with other members of the international community and that’s certainly been the case with the – at the UN Human Rights Council and in other fora. So we’ll continue to press our concerns very directly,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)

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