UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay has called on the government to provide protection for The Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shaukatally after he was shot at and injured on Friday night.
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News, Pillay also rejected investigations into the war conducted by the army saying it does not have the confidence of the people.
Shauketaly, 52, who holds joint British and Sri Lankan citizenship, is receiving treatment at the Colombo National hospital.
“I’m deeply disturbed by this particular shooting because it’s a journalist and he’s attached to a newspaper that’s known to be critical of the government – particularly on accountability and in justice issues – which are issues that I cover. And I will be reporting to the Human Rights Council my concern over extra judicial killings, abductions and this kind of treatment and suppression of freedom of expression,” Pillay told Channel 4 news.
The newspaper’s editor Sakunthala Perera said the journalist was shot while he was on the telephone discussing a story due to appear in this week’s edition.
Police said three men broke into his house and opened fire on him while he was in his bedroom. The journalist, whose family live in Colywn Bay in Wales, was rushed to hospital with bullet wounds in his neck.
Though he has miraculously survived, Shaukatally is undergoing further tests in intensive care ahead of surgery.
When asked about suggestions that the government could have been involved in the shooting, Pillay told Channel 4 News: “That’s why there has to be a proper investigation before we can conclude that. In the meantime it’s law enforcement that has to provide him protection. And it would demonstrate on the part of the government that they care if one of their citizens is fired upon. Everybody should care (about) who are the people who are going around shooting other people. This is what law enforcement is about.
“The Sri Lankan government swears by the integrity of their army and their police, well it’s time they demonstrated that. These institutions built into the democracy must now begin to work properly and this is an immediate instance where they can demonstrate that. ”
She said Sri Lanka must provide a credible investigation involving the civil society, because “if it is done by the government or the police themselves they do not enjoy the confidence of the people at this stage.”
She added that she was frustrated by the Sri Lankan government’s lack of investigation, with offers of UN help, to establish what happened at the end of the country’s civil conflict.