Brave Sri Lankan, Russian, Gabonese fighters against injustice win ‘integrity’ award

Saturday, November 13, 2010

LONDON - A Sri Lankan journalist, a Russian lawyer and a Gabonese activist have been named as joint winners of a global award for integrity.

According to the BBC, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International commended journalist Poddala Jayantha for his “dedication to exposing injustice in Sri Lanka”, and Moscow-based lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s “commitment to integrity,” which ultimately cost him his life.

Poddala Jayantha was the general secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association till 2009. He campaigned for the freedom of media and was viewed by government supporters as an opponent of the authorities.

In June last year Jayantha received head and leg injuries in an attack near his home in Colombo. He currently lives in the United States.

“I am happy that I could fight against corruption and campaign for press freedom while working for the state media, but yes I had to leave the country as a result,” the BBC quoted him, as saying after the awards’ announcement.

According to press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Sri Lanka is still among the most dangerous places for independent journalists. In its latest press freedom index, the country is rated 158 out of 178 countries listed.ussian lawyer Magnitsky died of pancreatitis in a Moscow remand prison in November 2009 while awaiting trial for tax evasion in a case connected to a US investment management firm. In court, he had said that he was the victim of a vendetta for testifying against a senior police official in a fraud case.

“Sergei Magnitsky did what to most people seems impossible: he battled as a lone individual against the power of an entire state,” Transparency said.

The organisation also commended Mintsa for helping it bring legal action in France resulting in an investigation into how three African leaders “were able to acquire luxury properties and goods in France”.

“Despite threats, imprisonment and a freeze on his salary, Mintsa refused to drop the case,” Transparency added. (ANI)

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