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Jailed journalist loses appeal for transfer, denied bail

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 1 July 2008 IFJ media release:

Sri Lanka Court Refuses Tisssainayagam Appeal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) deplores a decision by a Sri Lanka court on June 30 to continue the detention without charge of journalist J.S. Tissainayagam and to reject his appeal to be transferred from the supervision of the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) into fiscal custody.

Tissainayagam, editor of the http://www.outreachsl.com news website, has been held by the TID without charge for 116 days. He was arrested on March 7 while visiting N. Jesiharan, owner of E-Kwality Printers, and his partner Valamarthi, who were detained by TID officers on March 6. The couple also remain in TID custody.

In court on June 23, Tissainayagam's lawyer, Subandiran, argued that under Sections 19 and 21 of the Emergency Regulations Act, detainees must be transferred to fiscal custody (that is, removed from TID special detention into general detention) upon completion of a 90-day detention order.

The Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, reports that the magistrate's ruling in Colombo's Court 1 that Tissainayagam should be kept in police custody while an investigation continues means that the TID is permitted to detain the senior Tamil journalist until September 5.

While the magistrate reportedly ruled that Tissainayagam should be granted medical attention for a worsening eye condition, an appeal for bail was rejected.

"The IFJ is extremely concerned that any division of the Sri Lankan Police can be granted the power to arrest and detain a journalist, or anyone else, without being required to provide evidence," said IFJ Asia-Pacific.

"Tissainayagam must be granted the right to a fair hearing, in keeping with international human rights principles. More than 100 days of detention without the presentation of evidence of alleged wrong-doing is not just."

The IFJ supports the efforts of the five organisations representing journalists in Sri Lanka - the FMM, the Federation of Media Employee's Trade Unions (FMETU), the Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association (SLWJA), the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) and the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists' Alliance (SLTJA) - who held a peaceful protest outside the Colombo court yesterday to demand justification of Tissainayagam's detention or his immediate release.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries worldwide.

Updates the Tissainayagam case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94411

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