Sri Lanka: Proposed anti-terror bill labelled tyrannical, undemocratic

The International Federation of Journalists issues the statement and its affiliates strongly condemn the proposed ATA and urges the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately withdraw the bill and amend the existing draconian PTA.”

The new Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) proposed by the Sri Lankan parliament, designed to replace the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) of 1979, threatens to further exacerbate restrictions on the right to assembly and gravely curtail freedom of expression and press freedom. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Sri Lankan affiliates, the Sri Lankan Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), and the Free Media Movement (FMM), in strongly condemning the bill and urging Sri Lankan authorities to withdraw the proposed draft and repeal the punitive PTA.

On March 17, the Sri Lankan government announced its intention to replace the country’s current draconian terrorism act with the new ATA. The proposed legislation has been criticised by trade unions, human rights organisations, civil society, legal experts, and press freedom advocates, who have identified the bill’s potential to crack down on dissent and civic space amidst ongoing instability across the island.

The law would expand the legal definition of terrorist offences beyond international guidelines and include the infliction of serious damage to any place of public use, the obstruction of essential services, and participation in an unlawful assembly deemed by the government to be connected to ‘terrorism’. The law would also criminalise the distribution of materials or services that allow others to possess ‘terrorist publications’ and the publication of words or signs that may be understood by members of the public to conduct, encourage, or induce a terrorist offence, among many new and arbitrary charges.

Non-judicial detentions, previously only invocable by the Minister of Defence, could now be requested by a Deputy Inspector General Of Police, the third highest rank in the Sri Lanka police force. Abuses of power historically recorded under the PTA may be increased as law enforcement would be sanctioned to create ‘approved places of detention’ outside of Sri Lanka’s court structure, which has previously allowed for police torture of the arbitrarily detained. All arrests would occur before any formal charges were submitted.

Under the proposed ATA, the president would have the power to invoke proscriptive orders, restricting organisations labelled ‘terrorist’ from accessing funds or maintaining membership. The president would also have the power to order curfews, declare places ‘prohibited’, instate rehabilitation programs, and obtain restriction orders that prohibit movement and activities, all conducted outside of the court system. The Attorney General may also compel those charged under the ATA to produce guilty testimonies, as the AG may relieve an individual charged under the act for up to 20 years if they conduct conciliatory actions.

The legislation has been announced after decades of local and international criticism surrounding human rights abuses, often directed towards journalists, and ethnic and religious minorities, that were conducted under the PTA by successive Sri Lankan governments. According to Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the bill is expected to be presented to the Sri Lankan Parliament in late April and could come into law as early as May 2023.

Dharmasiri Lankapeli, the General Secretary of the FMETU, said: “This so-called Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) has provisions more draconian and tyrannical in nature compared to its predecessor PTA. […] The government has been compelled to put off the presenting of the ATA bill to Parliament due to vehement opposition by people, including lawyers’ organizations, civil organizations, trade unions, and media organizations. We, the FMETU, call on all those who uphold the values of democracy and rule of law to rally against this government’s attempt to arm itself with oppressive powers against people.”

The FMM said: “Although the national security of a country is an essential issue for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of the citizen, Free Media Movement strongly condemns the government’s imposition of laws to deprive citizens of freedom of expression and speech under the guise of national security. The Free Media Movement raised its voice against the cases where the government tried to violate the freedom of expression of the citizens through the arbitrary laws brought by the government earlier, such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Free Media Movement recognizes that many of the inhuman and arbitrary clauses in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act are preventing citizens, especially human rights activists, from expressing their free opinion and criticizing the mal behaviour of state institutions.”

The SLWJA said: “The SLWJA expresses grave concern regarding the Government of Sri Lanka’s proposed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The SLWJA believes that the proposed ATA is even more dangerous than the PTA as it could label, delegitimise, and ultimately dehumanise those the government considers to be its political enemies. The SLWJA urges the Government of Sri Lanka to engage in meaningful dialogue with civil society and the international community to address the concerns regarding the proposed ATA.”

The IFJ said: “The proposed Anti-Terrorist Act is a condemnable and dangerous alternative to the already flawed PTA, threatening to further undermine freedoms of expression, press, and assembly in Sri Lanka. If passed, journalists, media workers and their representative unions and organisations who are deemed critical of the Sri Lankan government face legal persecution under undemocratic and arbitrary ‘terrorist activities’. The IFJ strongly condemns the proposed ATA and urges the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately withdraw the bill and amend the existing draconian PTA.”


Deepest condolence death of comrade journalist Ponnayya Manikkawasagam

Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU), issued a press statement of deepest condolence on behalf of the Sri Lankan Journalists’ death of comrade Ponnayya Manikkawasagam. The full statement is below.

Press Release

2023 -04- 13

Deepest condolence death of comrade journalist Ponnayya Manikkawasagam

Awarded, Very Senior Journalist Northern peninsula, Ponnayya Manikkavasagam passed away Two days (11th) before. He started his journalism career as a provincial journalist in Weerakesari newspaper Vavuniya district and later joined the BBC. He has worked as a feature writer and reporter for several international media organizations including BBC Tamil Service. The Manikkawasagam journalist who was able to work in all three languages is a journalist who has received several awards including the Northern Province Governor’s Award.

He worked very closely with every journalist representing all communities in the south and all provinces in Sri Lanka and never hesitated to guidance to the journalists by facilitating mentor new journalists.

He was 76 years old when he died after suffering from a brief illness for a very short period. The funeral will be taken to be on the 13th in Vavuniya.

We as the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU), on behalf of the Sri Lankan Journalists, present our deepest condolence death of comrade Ponnayya Manikkawasagam to his wife and daughter who are grieving his loss.

Yours Sincerely,


Dharmasiri Lankapeli

General Secretary.

077 364 1111


Let’s rally to defeat the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act’!

The announcement issued by the Federation of Media Workers Trade Unions explaining its position regarding the Anti-Terrorism Act to be presented and passed by the Government of Sri Lanka is given below in its entirety.

Press Release

2023 -04- 11

Let’s rally to defeat the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act’!

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) introduced as a temporary legislation in 1979 has been in operation for more than forty-four years. The civilized world, human rights activists, civil society organizations both local and  foreign and international bodies including the United Nations have been clamoring throughout to show the inhumane nature of the PTA. Following the mounting pressure, the Sri Lankan government pledged to abolish the PTA and took action to bring about an Anti-Terrorism Act in place of the PTA.

This so-called Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) has provisions more draconian and tyrannical in nature compared to its predecessor PTA. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has warned of the abuse of ATA provisions by the rulers to dub legitimate public protests as acts of terrorism.  The South Asia Director of the Asian Human Rights Watch has pointed out that the new anti-terrorism law prevents peaceful demonstrations and gives tyrannical powers to the government authorities to label the political dissent and arrest to detain them for long periods without giving them access to the judiciary.

The government has been compelled to put off the presenting of the ATA bill to Parliament due to vehement opposition by people, including lawyers’ organizations, civil organizations, trade unions, and media organizations.

We, the FMETU, call on all those who uphold the values of democracy and rule of law to rally against this government’s attempt to arm itself with oppressive powers against people.

The FMETU is a member organization of the International Federation of Journalists is the world’s most powerful media organization with a membership of more than 600,000 journalists from 146 countries, and 167 media organizations, and we join with them and urge the government to withdraw the draconian laws being introduced by the ATA.

Yours Sincerely


Dharmasiri Lankapeli

General Secretary.

077 364 1111

Let us stand against suppression against ‘Siyata’ media network and harassing Journalist Lal Hemanta Mavalage

Please see below the published full press statement against the suppression of the ‘Siyata’ media network and harassing Journalist Lal Hemanta Mavalage by the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions.

Press Release

2023 -03- 22

Let us stand against suppression against ‘Siyata’ media network and harassing Journalist Lal Hemanta Mavalage

The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions strongly condemns the ongoing attempts to abuse parliamentary privileges to suppress the popular TV program ‘Televakiya’ and to intimidate its editor Lal Hemantha Mawalage, a veteran journalist attached to the Siyata Media Network. The Televakiya is a current affairs program that has become massively popular among TV audiences in recent times for its unafraid stance in criticizing the wrongdoings of the government. In return, the government is now trying to make use of the provisions in the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act to muzzle the media by summoning the journalists before Parliament Privileges Committee to question and institute legal actions against them. This highhanded action amounts to a serious threat against the freedom of expression.

Lal Hemantha Mawalage is a senior journalist who started his career in broadcasting at the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Since his inception there on Dec 28, 2008 he worked hard to stand against unjust and corruption. Because of his work, he had once come under a brutal attack from Mervyn Silva, a cabinet minister of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. Mawalage had to flee the country to save his life in that instance. Up until now, there is no formal investigation into this to bring the culprits before justice.

We urge President Ranil Wickremesinghe to stop immediately the suppression of the media and journalists and remind him and his government that it is their duty to bring justice to the journalists who had been killed, maimed, and became victims of enforced disappearances in recent years. We, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, emphasize that freedom of speech is a foundation of a democratic society, and is a powerful value to social, economic, and political freedom.

The FMETU is a member organization of the International Federation of Journalists is the world’s most powerful media organization with a membership of more than 600,000 journalists from 146 countries, and 167 media organizations, and we jointly urge the government to stop immediately the attempts to make use of powers to parliament to gag journalists. We also call on people’s representatives in Parliament to oppose the government’s plans to punish the Siyata Televakiya, which stands for the traditional characteristics of Public Service Journalism.

Yours Sincerely,


Dharmasiri Lankapeli

General Secretary.

077 364 1111

Greetings for the 2023 New Year!

2023 වසර, අපේ පැතුම් ඉටුකර ගන්නා අරගල වසරක් කරගනිමු!

நமது விருப்பங்களை நிறைவேற்ற, 2023-ஐ போராட்ட ஆண்டாக ஆக்குவோம்!

To fulfill our wishes, let us make 2023 a year of struggle!

Presenting a survey report on professional journalists and 15 video clips about their professional status!

With the guidance and support of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) under the IFJ-Union to Union (UTU) Global Union program, the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions conducted one unique research about the professional status of journalists and the challenges.

Jaffna District Journalist, Kandasami Selvakumar presented 16 videos showing survey reports and professional issues of journalists to the Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment Mr. Manusha Nanayakkara at the Ministry of Labor.

On that occasion, the Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, R. P. Wimalaweera, Labor Commissioner General Advocate Prabhath Chandrakirthi, General Secretary of the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, Dharmasiri Lankapeli, President Krishni Irfam, National Organizer Douglas Nanayakkara, Executive Committee, and a large number of district leaders of Federation also participated.

Addressing the journalists here, the Labor Minister Mr. Manusha Nanayakkara stated that whether they work on piece rate, contract, or freelance, it should be a policy to protect the professional security of all those. He recalled that as the Ministry of Labor, he is bound to serve in this way, and while presenting the budget speech in Parliament, the President paid special attention to the need to enact labor legislation to include contract and part-time workers.

Further, addressing the gathering of journalists, he stated that he does not expect to delay the labor legislation for months and years. I am taking relevant steps to formulate the necessary rules and regulations as soon as possible to protect the workers and entrepreneurs.  The labor ministry will complete the whole legal framework before the end of 2023, the further minister said.

Plight of Professional Journalists in Sri Lanka revealed !

Press release- November 27, 2022 

The plight of Professional Journalists in Sri Lanka revealed

The survey reveals that Journalism is the only profession in Sri Lanka where the majority of employees are denied their basic professional rights.

A report was released on the professional status of journalists in Sri Lanka and the challenges they face.  The report was compiled by the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, FMETU through an all-island survey of journalists conducted during the latter part of 2022, under the IFJ-Union to Union (UTU) Global Union program, with the guidance and support of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ),

The survey was tailored to identify key challenges faced by journalists in Sri Lanka. An online Google application form was used to collect the data of the journalists. The main expectation of this research was to gather information on each individual journalist. Areas covered include training, adherence to local labour regulations, facilities, and work-related pressure. A representative sample of    340 mainstream and regional Sinhala, Tamil, and English language media professionals participated in the survey and furnished data that was used for the preparation of the report covering journalists from all districts of Sri Lanka.

To illustrate further the findings of the survey, young journalists were provided training on digital media and supported to produce videos on the professional status of Journalists in Sri Lanka.   Using the skills they developed through the training, 15 videos focusing on the media industry and the professional issues of journalists were produced by young journalists. The videos were produced in Sinhala, Tamil, and English.

The complete survey report, 15 videos, and details about the journalists who participated in the survey have been published on the FMETU website

The survey brought to light some salient facts related to journalists and the media industry. According to the survey,  it has been revealed that 59% of the journalists working in Sri Lankan media organizations do not receive their salaries on a specified date. It has been revealed that 91% of journalists do not receive any special allowance. 92% of the journalists who participated have maintained that the current remuneration they receive is not sufficient in relation to their professional credentials and work carried out as professional journalists.

Currently, 26% of the journalists working in the media industry are under the age of 35. About 31% are between the ages of 35 and 45, and 25% are between the ages of 45 and 55. 16% of journalists are over the age of   55 years.

Most of these journalists have got through the GCE Advanced level examination.  In terms of percentage, it is 36%. Also, 19% have studied up to GCE O Level and 28% are  Diploma holders.  9% of the journalists have university degrees.

According to this report, the percentage of journalists in different languages are as follows:  65.2%,  Sinhala language media, 34.3%,  Tamil media, and 10.5%,  English media

Out of these, 53.3% work in print media, 47.9% in television, 27.8% in radio, and 27.5% in digital media. It is noteworthy that  90% of them are full-time media professionals. In addition, this survey has revealed that 18% of them have not received any formal training in journalism.

1% of these journalists are employed on a permanent basis.  Out of these,  only, 14% of them have prospects of a promotion scheme.  About 52% of journalists are employed on a piece-rate basis and another 26% are employed on a contract basis. Moreover, it has been confirmed that about 86% of journalists have no promotional prospects.

This survey has also revealed more than 80% of journalists who serve print, electronic, and digital media institutions are not officially entitled to annual salary increments, benefits of the Employees’ Provident Fund, or the Employees’ Trust Fund, service gratuities, and bonuses that are enjoyed by employees in most other sectors.

According to this report, 66.8 % of journalists have received appointment letters from their employers. There are 31.2% of journalists without appointment letters.  It has been found out that the letter of renewal of service is considered by them to be the letter of appointment. 78.2% of the journalists have a media identification card and 21.8% do not have an identification card.

About 68% stated that whilst working under such low conditions, there have been numerous instances where they have suffered professionally. 77% of journalists stated that they do not have adequate security while pursuing their media careers. 16.4% of the victims of violence are based on gender.

Under such a situation, 98% of them are of the opinion that they should organize themselves in order to improve their working conditions. Also, 95% have accepted that national and international support is needed for them to get better working conditions.

188 journalists involved in the print media participated in this survey,  with  53.3%. The percentage of journalists who have participated from the television media is 47.9%,  That is, 169,  98 radio Journalists, and 97 digital journalists. In terms of percentage, it is 27.8% and 27.5% respectively.

The survey report explains that among the professions in Sri Lanka, the media profession is the only profession where the vast majority of employees have been denied their basic professional rights.

This survey report makes it clear that the label of the fourth estate of the country, the watchdog of the nation, etc are mere terms and do not apply in reality to Sri Lankan Journalists.

The FMETU acknowledges with gratitude the young journalists, women journalists, and media colleagues all over the country, who supported this exercise by providing information and producing videos.

FMETU also thanks those who supported the implementation of the IFJ-Union to Union (UTU) Global Union program and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)  which has continued to provide FMETU and Sri Lankan media with invaluable guidance and help.

Dharmasisr Lankapeli                                                                                     

General Secretary

on behalf of The Executive committee.

 077 364 1111

Opportunities to challenge impunity for crimes against journalists in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has an unfortunate history of impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers. The actions of the Rajapaksa family and the government crackdown during Sri Lanka’s ongoing social unrest require action. Media and press freedom organisations in Sri Lanka should take advantage of international action and social momentum to challenge impunity, writes Ruki Fernando

 Many journalists have been killed and subjected to enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, with the Jayewardene-Premadasa-led UNP governments of 1977-1994 and the Rajapaksa-led UPFA government of 2006-2014 committing grave media rights violations across their regimes. Across several governments, journalists and media workers have faced arrest, detainment assault, threats, intimidation, and harassment. Media outlets have been subjected to arson and legal crackdowns, with the English-language weekend paper Sunday Leader and Tamil-language newspaper Uthayan being among the worst affected. Impunity has reigned for all these.

Crimes against journalists continue to the present. in October 2020, Shanmugam Thavaseelan and Kanapathipillai Kumanan were assaulted when they were covering illegal deforestation in the highly militarized Mullaitheevu district. Though some arrests were made, suspects were quickly released on bail and two years later, no one has been held accountable.

In July 2021, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police, Deshabandu Tennakoon, threatened prominent investigative journalist Tharindu Jayawardena through Facebook comments (including implied death threats) after a report about him was published. Despite a formal complaint to the Inspector General of Police, there have been no proper investigations and Tennakoon has not been held accountable to date.

This year, journalists covering protests have also faced reprisals. An investigation was ordered into MTV networks, a popular private television channel. The investigation aimed to blame the channel’s live broadcast of a major protest outside the then-president’s house for the violence that occurred. A group of journalists from the same private channel were beaten by Special Task Force (STF) police officers on July 9 2022, while covering a major protest outside the Prime Minister’s residence.

One of those beaten up and injured was Waruna Sampath, who was also one of the two journalists beaten up and injured in August 2008, by then Minister Mervyn Silva and a group of goons. Waruna had courageously filed Fundamental Rights petitions concerning both incidents. While the Supreme Court awarded him compensation for the 2008 incident, his Fundamental Rights petition for the 2022 incident has been postponed until next year. No one has been held legally accountable for either the 2008 or 2022 incidents, despite both incidents happening in front of police, media cameras, and thousands of people.

Many journalists fear challenging impunity, and have subjected themselves to self-censorship or fled into exile. More are likely to follow.

Protests and International Developments

This year, an unprecedented economic crisis led to a historic series of protests that toppled the racist, corrupt and authoritarian Rajapaksa ruling family who were known to crack down on dissent. The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) placed huge billboards of murdered, tortured and disappeared journalists on the fence of the Presidential Secretariat, the most prominent protest site in the country. The billboards were removed and destroyed but were quickly re-installed. During the protests, ordinary citizens also demonstrated by holding smaller placards in remembrance of murdered and disappeared journalists and demanding justice.

The protests coincided with significant international developments to address impunity in Sri Lanka. In 2021, the Permanent People’s Tribunal in The Hague held hearings into the murder of The Sunday Leader journalist and editor Lasantha Wickrematunge. The hearing was based on an indictment presented by a coalition of international press freedom organizations and analysed the greater context of impunity for crimes against journalists and found Lasantha’s murder was one incident in systemic attacks on journalists and media workers during the civil war.

Forty-four names of journalists and media workers killed or disappeared between 2004 to 2010, the majority of whom are Tamils, were read out by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka while acknowledging there had been many more killed and disappeared before that. The tribunal judgement noted that the Sri Lankan government, through their lack of investigations, lack of reparations to victims, and impunity for crimes against journalists, was guilty of grave violations of the human rights of Lasantha Wickrematunge, specifically the right to life, the right to freedom of expression, the right to an effective remedy and the right to freedom from discrimination based on political opinion, covering articles 6, 19, 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Hague Tribunal hearings follow other international initiatives to seek justice for Lasantha’s murder. In 2019, the Center for Justice and Accountability filed a civil suit in the United States against former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa for their alleged involvement in his killing. In 2021, Lasantha’s daughter Ahimsa Wickrematunge filed a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR).

There is also a pending complaint at the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) on disappeared journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda. In November 2021, The UNWGEID wrote to the Sri Lankan government about reprisals faced by his wife Sandya Ekneligoda in her efforts to challenge impunity. Last month, she spoke at the United Nations Committee against Enforced Disappearances.

Impunity for serious crimes against journalists has featured prominently in UNHCR Commissioner reports to the Human Rights Council. Last month, the UNHCR voted on a resolution on Sri Lanka that decided to continue the evidence-gathering process related to crimes in Sri Lanka and support prosecutions. This could include serious crimes against journalists.

Judicial Processes in Sri Lanka

These international initiatives have become significant as entrenched impunity has served as a license for continuing crimes and violence against journalists. Not a single person has been convicted for serious crimes against journalists and only two cases have reached the prosecution stage. In one of them, the murder of journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan in Jaffna in October 2000, media reported that the Attorney General had instructed the courts not to continue the case against the suspects last year.

The case of journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda’s disappearance in January 2010 also failed to materialise. After a courageous and determined campaign by his wife Sandya Ekneligoda, several army personnel was arrested, and indictments were filed against the nine accused. Most of the case’s progress was made under the Sirisena government, but the return to power of the Rajapaksa family in November 2019 presented new obstacles with the Rajapaksa government pledging not to prosecute ‘war heroes’, military personnel. A top investigator on the case went into exile and the chief overseeing the investigations was arrested and detained, before being released on bail by a higher court and going into retirement.

Opportunities for Media Freedom Organisations

Though primarily driven by Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, protesters on the streets of Colombo have been insisting on radical long-term institutional reform. This has provided fresh momentum to push for an independent and effective criminal justice system with independent and professional law enforcement, prosecutors, and judiciary.

For decades, media freedom organizations in Sri Lanka have been campaigning against impunity. Though they often demand criminal accountability through judicial processes and international involvement, their work in the judicial sphere and internationally has been limited. There were no strong interventions concerning the Hague Tribunal or the various UN initiatives to address impunity in Sri Lanka. There has been very little legal assistance offered to the survivors of crimes or the families of victims who can wait for years for justice and compensation.

The judicial system offers opportunities to challenge impunity, such as filing writs, Fundamental Rights cases and intervening in ongoing cases. A writ filed by a former prisoner and rights activist led to a landmark prosecution and conviction of a senior prison official involved in a prison massacre. Systematic trial observations and advocacy in significant court cases would also be important in addressing impunity. None of these options have been explored meaningfully by media freedom organisations in Sri Lanka.

In the last few months, leaders of the Young Journalists Association (YJA) have filed court cases at a Magistrate Court and Fundamental Rights case at the Supreme Court to address impunity relating to freedom of expression and assembly violations by the police. YJA has also challenged impunity for crimes against free expression through their lodging of complaints to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka about demonstrations in Sri Lanka. Their activism, along with some families of victims such as Sandya Ekneligoda and Ahimsa Wickramatunge, have been inspiring in the greater action against impunity.

This year of crisis, uncertainty, and hope could also become a turning point to challenge impunity for crimes against journalists. Innovation, creativity, consistency, commitment, and courage from local media freedom organizations, especially in the judicial and international spheres could be vital in challenging impunity.

Copied from November issue of

Ruki Fernando is a Sri Lankan journalist and has been involved in human rights activism and social justice advocacy since 1997.   

Videos on journalist’s issues in Sri Lanka

Winners of the video production component of the digital media training for young journalists organized by the  Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions and the International Federation of Journalists support by the IFJ-UTU 2022 project of strengthening Journalist unions in the world. The member journalists of FMETU  produced videos highlighting professional and rights-based issues facing journalists in Sri Lanka.

Picture showing First Class Award Winners, Upper Second Class Award  Winners, and Second Class Award Winners.
Anyone  can log in to follow the videos

Hong Kong: Media tycoon Jimmy Lai convicted of fraud – IFJ statement

In the latest targeted prosecution of Jimmy Lai by Hong Kong authorities, the media tycoon and founder of Apply Daily was convicted of fraud on October 25 after a court found he violated the terms of a lease. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the court’s verdict and the ongoing persecution of Lai and calls for his immediate release from prison.

Jimmy Lai (C), who was convicted of fraud on October 25, looks on as activists demonstrate outside court on November 3, 2020. Credit: Peter Parks / AFP

 District Court Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi found Lai had concealed the fact that he was subletting part of his newspaper’s office headquarters to a secretarial firm, also owned by Lai, between 2016 and 2020, violating agreements with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp. The judge added that he did not believe Lai had forgotten the firm was occupying the space.

Wong Wai-keung, Lai’s former colleague, was also convicted of fraud, while a former senior executive of Next Digital, Royston Chow, evaded criminal liability by making a deal with the prosecution.

Lai is also facing charges of collusion with foreign powers under Hong Kong’s national security law and is due to stand trial on December 1st. According to Caoilfhionn Gallagher, who leads the international legal team for Lai, this latest verdict means that Lai will “be a convicted prisoner going into his national security law trial.”

Lai has faced repeated arrests and prosecutions for his pro-democracy activism and criticism of the Chinese Communist Party’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy. He was arrested following a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2019 and is currently serving a 20-month sentence for his role in organising unauthorised demonstrations against police brutality.

Lai’s lawyers are urging the United Nations to investigate his imprisonment and various criminal charges on the basis that it represents “legal harassment.”

On October 14, the IFJ released its 2022 report on freedom of expression in Hong Kong, expressing deep concern at the nation’s gutting of independent media and press freedom. The IFJ called on governments internationally to maintain vigilance in condemning the actions of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments and urging for respect for Hong Kong’s Basic Law obligations and press freedom.

The IFJ said: “The District Court’s verdict to convict Jimmy Lai on fraud charges sets a grave precedent for his upcoming trial under the draconian national security law. The Hong Kong authorities’ ongoing arbitrary persecution of Lai violates fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The IFJ urges the authorities to withdraw all charges laid against Lai immediately and release him from prison.”

For further information, contact IFJ Asia – Pacific at 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram

Do you have questions? Call or visit us.

+(94) 773 641 111

#30, Amarasekara Mawatha, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka.


Get latest news & update

Connect With Us

© 2021 – FMETU. All rights reserved.

Carefully crafted by Ceyber Ceylon