(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday noted that as a country it was very significant for Sri Lanka to be chosen as the venue to hold the UNESCO Regional Conference in Reinforcing Regional Cooperation to Promote Freedom of Expression and the Rule of Law in Asia through Ending Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Sri Lanka which was once one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist was now a ‘safe space required for freedom of expression’.
“We must keep on working hard to sustain and safeguard this space, and that we still have a long way to go in terms of completing investigations into past crimes, including the murder of journalists in the past”, added Minister Samaraweera.
It is also an occasion for us in Sri Lanka to recognize and acknowledge that justice is crucial and essential, because impunity will leave open the danger of the recurrence of the heinous crimes that occurred in the past, the minister continued.
The seminar, Minister Samaraweera noted was also important platform to bring together regional stakeholders, National Human Rights Commissions as well as civil society and media in the challenge of combating impunity for crimes against journalists in the region.
“It will be an invaluable opportunity for sharing experiences and best practice in this important area. This will help Sri Lanka learn from others as well as share our own experiences,” he added.
“The role of the state is to guarantee and further the rights to freedom of expression,” said the Minister as he emphasised that Sri Lanka remained firm in its commitment to work with the international community, including UNESCO, to work towards ending impunity for crimes against journalists, and to uphold the rights of journalists around the world who place themselves at risk every day, to give voice to the voiceless.