Sri Lanka jailed reporter named winner of Peter Mackler Award

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2009 (AFP) – J.S. Tissainayagam, a Sri Lankan reporter sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, has been named the first winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. “We are happy to reward J.S. Tissainayagam in 2009, a terrible year for Sri Lanka,” said Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary-general of the Paris-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“This country needs journalists who are determined and concerned with finding the truth,” Julliard said in a statement issued hours after Tissainayagam was jailed for 20 years on charges of supporting terrorism.

“J.S. Tissainayagam is one of those and should never have been imprisoned,” he said. “Sri Lankans have the right to be informed about what is happening on their island.

“They have the right to read words written by men like J.S. Tissainayagam.”

Tissainayagam was selected for the Peter Mackler Award, named for a 30-year veteran of Agence France-Presse who died last year, by the US branch of RSF and Global Media Forum (GMF), a company founded by Mackler to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change.

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