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Last updated: 07 January, 2010 - Published 19:40 GMT
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Lasantha's anniversary highlights state complicity
Lasantha was shot dead
Protests by journalists in Colombo
Human rights groups accuse the Sri Lankan government of maintaining
patronage and protection to those responsible for the assassination of political opponents.

Issuing statements to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, human rights groups and media watchdogs say that the culture of impunity is threatening the lives of many people.

Reporters without Boarders (RSF), Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka(JDS) and Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) have once again expressed their concerns about security and protection of journalists.

Shed light on murder

Reporters without Boarders (RSF) urge presidential candidates to "pledge to shed light on this murder and on serious other press freedom violations that took place in recent years".

"Even if these criminals continue to feel sufficiently protected that they can threaten the Sunday Leader's new editor in messages written in the same red ink, we are confident that one day they will be punished," RSF said.

Journalists for Democracy (JDS) say that Defence Secretary and the former army chief have claimed that they are both aware of the perpetrators in the killings in addition to those who committed atrocities against journalists.

"Therefore, both the army commander and Defence Secretry should be held responsible for their statements and must be forced to divulge information", JDS said.

No credibility

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) point out that the government has refused to inquire into the murder in any credible manner.

“That the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge was a direct result of a political conspiracy involving the highest personalities of the government has been a constant and loud allegation,” AHRC said.

The murdered journalist's relatives and friends will meet at his grave in Colombo on Friday and participate in series of activities in his memory. A commemorative meeting will also be held in London on Friday.

Lasantha was attacked by gunmen as he was driving to work on 8 January 2009. He was taken unconscious to a hospital where he died.

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