Sunanda Deshapriya (2010)Cases
- Location of case in SG report
- Relevant SG report
- Year of the report
- From Country
- Country Geolocation
- Country Geolocation (linked Cases)
- Sri Lanka
- From Region
- UN body that raised the case prior to the SG report
- UN Special Procedures: Thematic
- Dates of prior UN action
- 17 March 2010
- Type of record
- Named individual
- Was the victim a foreign national?
- Was the victim a minor?
- Individual's/organization's activity
a prominent journalist and human rights defender
- Type of rights defended
- Unclear in SG Report
- Was the victim a civil servant, member of the security forces or of the judiciary?
- Reported trigger of reprisal
following his participation and intervention at the tenth session of the Human Rights Council in March 2009 and the eleventh special session on Sri Lanka in May 2009.
- Engagement with UN body
- UN Human Rights Council: UN Human Rights Council - General
- Dates of engagement
- March 2009; 26 and 27 May 2009
- Type of attempted engagement
- Participation in meeting on UN premises
- Dates of mentioned reprisals
- 1 April 2009; Following participation; 3 March 2010
- Reprisal information
It is reported that the Human Rights Minister commented in The Hindu newspaper (1 April 2009) that “the people who go and sit in cafeterias in the UN and lobby people in a very subjective manner putting forward those kind of sentiments (against Sri Lanka) would be inviting a very stern response from the Government of Sri Lanka”. 41. In their letter, the Special Rapporteurs expressed their concern that the media campaigns, threats and harassment of and intimidation against a number of human rights defenders and journalists, in particular Sunanda Deshapriya, may be related to their legitimate activities in defence of human rights, in particular to their international advocacy and outreach efforts. Mr. Deshapriya, a prominent journalist and human rights defender, has been living in exile in Switzerland since May 2009, due to the threats received and the ongoing denigration campaign in the media following his participation and intervention at the tenth session of the Human Rights Council in March 2009 and the eleventh special session on Sri Lanka in May 2009. He has been accused of being a “traitor” and a “liar” due to his participation in the special session. Videos containing death threats against him have been posted on a social networking site; he has received numerous threatening text messages and has been vilified in television and radio shows and in a number of editorials. 42. Mr. Deshapriya, along with 30 other human rights defenders and journalists, appeared on a list published on the Sri Lankan news website Lanka News Web on 3 March 2010, allegedly compiled by the State Intelligence Service of Sri Lanka. The list contains the names of individuals who have been engaged in “international outreach” on issues related to human rights and grades them according to their perceived importance to the intelligence services. Several human rights defenders and journalists are referred to variously as providing several local and international outlets with information on human rights issues and internally displaced persons, as international platform speakers on media/human rights, and as persons who speak on human rights and media freedom and who are involved in advocacy overseas. While the purpose of the list remains unclear, it gives rise to a serious concern about the physical and psychological integrity of the individuals contained therein.
- Types of reprisals suffered
- Defamation / Defamation campaign
- Online harassment
- Threats/Intimidations (incl. "fear of reprisal")
- Alleged/likely perpetrators
- State actors
- Was the reprisal based on new legislation?
- Does the report make general comment about country’s environment for engagement with UN?
- Government response content
At the thirteenth session of the Human Rights Council, during the interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the delegation of Sri Lanka expressed its firm resolve not to countenance or tolerate acts of violence or intimidation against journalists and human rights defenders. This necessarily involved taking adequate measures to investigate and punish perpetrators of any violence against those persons. Sri Lanka also observed that the very amorphous nomenclature of “human rights defenders” was used very loosely to encompass just about every form of activity however distantly associated with the sphere of human rights promotion and protection. The delegation explained that the Government of Sri Lanka had to discourage persons representing themselves as such and making assertions for collateral purposes of political gain and causing embarrassment to the Government in pursuit of extraneous agendas in the name of human rights.
- Is the country cited for a "pattern of reprisal" in the context of this case?
- Is a pattern of reprisals mentioned otherwise in the context of this case?
- Does the report cite "self-censorship" as an issue in the context of this case?
- How many times has the case been followed up in subsequent SG reports?