Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Will impunity ever end?

A few months after being sworn in as president in January 2015, Maithripala Sirisena said he wanted to reopen the investigations into all the murders of journalists during the preceding dark decade (2005-2015) when Mahinda Rajapaksa was president. Some progress has been made in the investigation into Lasantha Wickrematunga’s murder, but almost all the others remain unpunished. The government also said that journalists would no longer have to fear reprisals when they covered sensitive subjects, yet the reality is somewhat different. In 2018, there were many cases of journalists being threatened, aggressed or denied access to certain regions by the security forces, especially in the north and east of the island, where Tamil journalists were targeted by the police and military. The culminating nightmare for many Sri Lankan journalists came in October 2018, when President Sirisena suddenly appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa – who had overseen egrigious press freedom violations as president – as his prime minister. Within hours of Rajapaksa’s appointment, members of his party stormed into several media outlets in order to take control by force. A supreme court decision finally brought an end to Sirisena’s political maneuver, one clearly prejudicial to journalism, but this episode served as a stark reminder of Sri Lankan press freedom’s vulnerability to political vicissitudes.

in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index



131 in 2018

Global score


41.37 in 2018

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2020
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2020
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2020
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