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Last updated: 15 September, 2009 - Published 18:37 GMT
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UN sends special envoy to Sri Lanka
B Lynn Pascoe
UN envoy intends to discuss critical issues.
A senior United Nations envoy is visiting Sri Lanka for talks on critical issues the UN said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is sending the United Nations’ political chief, B. Lynn Pascoe, to Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

The UN political chief B. Lynn Pascoe told journalists that the mission was agreed by the Secretary General and the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, during a telephone conversation.

“We are very concerned about the pace of progress,” he said.

“The Secretary-General was there, and a series of commitments was made, including on the movement of people out of camps and including an eventual political process and some kind of accountability mechanism” the UN political chief added.

Right to freedom of expression

The political chief of the UN also intends to discuss the continued detention of two UN staff members, and the decision by the Sri Lankan authorities to expel UNICEF spokesman James Elder.

Meanwhile, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navanethem Pillay, addressing the 12th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva said that we should all be dismayed by the recent sentence of twenty years imprisonment imposed on journalist J.S. Tissanayagam.

V. Jaseeharan and J.S Tissanayagam
Both journalists were arrested under the PTO

‘His conviction raises serious concerns about respect for the right to freedom of expression’, the high commissioner told the Human Rights Council.

He is the first journalist to be sentenced under the Prevention of Terrorsm Act (PTA) and it is the harshest sentence meted out by courts to any journalist in Sri Lanka.

J.S. Tissainayagam was arrested in 2008 and charged with inciting violence in articles in his magazine and was found guilty of "causing communal disharmony".

Tortured by the TID

The publisher of the North Eastern Monthly magazine V. Jaseeharan who was arresterd with Tissanayagam under the PTA, denied voluntarily gave a confession to the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID).

He claimed he had been tortured by the TID since his arrest on the 6th of March 2009.

V. Jaseeharan
Jaseeharan denied voluntraily giving confession

He said he was tortured again after making a complaint to the Magistrate that he was tortured by the officers.

Jaseeharan who is an ethnic Tamil, denied giving a confession and said he was forced to sign the documents in sinhala.

He was also accused of receiving funds from Tamil Tiger rebels.

After been sentenced J.S. Tissainayagam was named the first recipient of the Peter Mackler Award by the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders.

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