For several years, the Free Media Movement (FMM) of Sri Lanka and free expression advocates has dubbed January as “Black January”. This was in the context of large number of journalists killed, disappeared, assaulted, as well as attacks on media institutions – all in January. 24th is one such Black day in January. The Trincomalee based Tamil journalist Subramaniyam Sugirtharajan, was shot dead on 24th January 2006. The Colombo based Sinhalese cartoonist and journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda disappeared on 24th January 2010.

The almost forgotten journalist killing: Subramaniyam Sugirtharajan

Sugirtharajan, popularly known as SSR, was a part-time provincial journalist working for the Tamil language daily Sudar Oli. He was a father of two children.

Following up from the INGO Conference’s work in January and June of this year, it seemed timely to make connections with the UN efforts on the same topic. The Conference’s delegate, Christoph Spreng, took part in the 6th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights held in Geneval on 27 and 28 November.

The Forum is the global platform for yearly stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework from paper to practice. It should be recalled that the Council of Europe's Commitee of Ministers' Recommendation on Business and Human Rights repeatedly refers to the UNGPs, as does the Recommendation of the Conference of INGOs that was voted last June.

Dear Friends,

During its 1249th meeting of last March 2nd, the CM adopted:

  • Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on human rights and business (link)
  • Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the protection and promotion of Human rights in culturally diverse societies (link)

They are particularly useful texts of which NGOs members of Pax Romana can take advantage in their own activities by insuring the follow-up of the effective implementation of these instruments by Member states.

If you have knowledge of breaches of these Recommendations and Guidelines do not hesitate to communicate them to me.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe : PACE

Adopting a report on the protection and role of human rights defenders, the Legal Affairs Committee has expressed deep concern about increased reprisals against them in certain Council of Europe member states, including Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Turkey. It also voiced particular concern about the situation in annexed Crimea and other territories outside states’ control.

In 2005-2006, I was working at the FORUM-ASIA Secretariat based in Bangkok. As the conflict escalated in 2006, I decided to go home to Sri Lanka. When I eventually returned to Sri Lanka in early 2007, the experience and skills I had gained during my time in Bangkok, especially personal and professional contacts with human rights defenders (HRDs) in Asia and with regional and international organisations, proved to be crucial and lifesaving.

Going back to chaos

       I left Sri Lanka in late 2004, a time of relative calm provided by a ceasefire. Still human rights abuses took place regularly, including killings, child soldier recruitment, and regular violations of the ceasefire by both the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan Government.

      But I came back to chaos. There was large scale enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, mass displacement, forcible recruitment including of children, and severe restrictions on traveling and communication. It was also a time where HRDs, including non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers, humanitarian workers, independent journalists, clergy, and opposition politicians with critical views of the Government, were killed, disappeared, detained or threatened. Domestic human rights protection mechanisms, such as the Judiciary, National Human Rights Commission and the Ad Hoc Commissions of Inquiries, had become completely ineffective.

More than 60 Church leaders, journalist, advocates and human rights activists took part in three days advocacy training held in Kathmandu.

The training dealt with biblical perspective on human rights and social justice, general United Nations human rights system and basic advocacy strategies.

Training was organized by Religious Liberty Forum and hosted by ITEEN with the Support from World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA LRC) on 25-27 August 2015. A delegation of five team members from National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL); General Secretary- Godfrey Yogarajah, Director for Missions- Mahesh De Mel, Media & Communications- Jovita Arulanantham, Research and Prayer coordinator- Mike Gabriel and Legal and Advocacy Coordinator- Yamini Ravindran facilitated the entire training sessions.

This second part presents 6 important points of the encyclica "Pacem in Terris" :

-  a recognition of Human Rights 15 years after the unversal declaration.

- The root ot the human rights is in God or in the human dignity, not in the decisions of governing bodies.

Organized during the world day of prayer for human rights defenders and peace builders, this conference gathered members or groups from Kenya, India, Malaysia, Poland, USA. This first part includes a presentation of the program, a prayer time from Africa a spiritual song form Malaysia, and an exposure on the situation and the action with Ukrain, presented by a polish member.