Prageeth, an employee of the Lanka-e-News website, disappeared in Colombo on his way home from work two days before the 2010 presidential elections, on the night of January 24th, 2010. He had been a vocal and public critic of the human rights abuses of the government of Pres. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Since his disappearance, his wife Sandya Eknaligoda has kept both the Sri Lankan public’s and the international media’s attention squarely on the Rajapaksa government’s poor human rights record, as well as demanding an account of her husband’s whereabouts from venues ranging from street protests to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Mirror article reports that “Fernando said Ms. Eknaligoda had made it clear that she was aware of her husband’s whereabouts from the way she behaved. Mr. Fernando therefore said she had acted in an unpatriotic manner.” In an interview with CRNI on June 9, 2013 Sandya said unequivocally that she had absolutely no knowledge of her husband’s whereabouts, and would continue to press the government for information surrounding his disappearance three years ago.
Until very recently, government spokespeople have denied any knowledge of his whereabouts or any involvement in his disappearance. More recently government representatives have occasionally made claims that Mr Eknaligoda is living safely abroad. Further, they claim that he and other runaway journalists are being supported by enemies of the current government.
CRNI Executive Director Robert Russell commented that “the new claim that Prageeth Eknaligoda is alive and living in France comes at an interesting time. This most recent statement about his whereabouts was made during a debate on a proposal to amend the Sri Lanka Press Council Law. Statements that certain journalists and human rights workers have not disappeared but have run away and are in the pay of the government’s enemies will play well in Parliament as they consider new restrictions on the media.”
CRNI once again calls on the Sri Lankan government to disclose everything that it is aware of concerning the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda.
To read more about Sandya Eknaligoda’s courageous response to her husband’s disappearance, and her work on behalf of the human rights of all Sri Lankans, see this previous post on our website
To learn more about the politics of the media law in Sri Lanka read this article by Dr. Jehan Perera, the executive director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.