He’s out, according to the Daily Mirror
Days after the death anniversary of editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, jailed journalist Tissa has been released on bail. Thank god for him and his family. After Lasantha’s killing (with impunity) the sentence of Tissa to 20 years put a chill through free expression and thought in Sri Lanka. I don’t agree with everything Tissa wrote, but the paragraphs he was convicted for were quite tame, allegations that the Army was attacking civilian areas. The burden of proof and evidence was so low that it set a precedent where almost anyone could be convicted.
This was scary because it corrupted the bureaucratic machinery of justice into part of the war machine. In the absence of an independent judiciary and in the presence of the Press Council Act, this was a disturbing move towards institutionalized censorship, largely at the whim of the Defence Ministry. It’s great that he’s out, but that precedent still stands. Sarath Fonseka is calling for abolishing the Press Council and passing a Freedom Of Information Act, which I support. I think that Milinda Moragoda in the current government has also advocated a freedom of information act. Either way, it’s nice that this one man is out, but we need some institutional change to get the fear out of everyone’s system.