SRI LANKA: Sunday Leader journalist shot

RAN 10/13 – 22 February 2013

SRI LANKA: Sunday Leader journalist shot

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International condemns the attack against Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly on 15 February 2013, apparently in retaliation for his journalistic work. PEN International 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 authorities of Sri Lanka of its commitments to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it 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.

Investigative journalist Faraz Shauketaly, aged 52, was at his home in Mount Lavinia, Colombo, on the evening of the 15 February, when three armed men broke into his room on the top floor of his house and shot at 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 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 of Faraz Shauketaly. 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 which has continued in spite of commitments to protect freedom of expression by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After twenty-five years of conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers, victory over the Tigers was declared by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 16 May 2009. Rajapaksa went on to win a landslide victory in the presidential elections of 26 January 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 8 February 2010 on charges of conspiracy, and 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 which has resulted in widespread self-censorship and many journalists fleeing the country.

Please send appeals:

  • 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 that 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 authorities 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 appeals to:

His Excellency the President Mahinda RajapaksaPresidential SecretariatColombo 1

Sri Lanka

Fax: +94 11 2446657

Email: secretary [at] presidentsoffice [dot] lk

Mr. Mohan Peiris

Attorney General

Attorney General’s Department,

Colombo 12,

Sri Lanka

Fax: +94 11 2 436421

***Please contact this office if sending appeals after 30 March 2013***

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann [at] pen-international [dot] org