Lasantha Wins Transparency International's Inaugural Integrity Award

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Lasantha and Frank

Lasantha receiving the 2000 Integrity Award from TI co-founder Frank Vogl

In 2000, the global anti-corruption community recognised Lasantha Wickrematunga’s fearless pursuit of the truth and the years he spent exposing corruption in Sri Lankan politics by granting him Transparency International's very first Integrity Award.

On 9 January 2009 in a statement from its headquarters in Berlin Transparency International (TI) condemned the assassination of Lasantha Wickrametunga and said the global anti-corruption organisation was also deeply concerned about broader attempts to stifle critical voices in Sri Lanka.

"At that time Wickramatunga, editor-in-chief of The Sunday Leader newspaper, had already been subject to defamation charges after exposing political corruption, which saw his newspaper temporarily banned by the Sri Lankan government. Even then, he and his family faced threats and physical attacks.

This murder is one more chilling instance of a growing pattern of violence and intimidation against the media and civil society on the island. It is incumbent on the government of Sri Lanka to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and human rights, especially the right of individuals to free expression.

Investigative journalism is an indispensable tool in the fight against corruption and for greater accountability, but it carries great risks. For his valuable work, Wickramatunga paid with his life. Transparency International recognises his immense contribution to the anti-corruption movement and issues a call to the Sri Lankan authorities to take immediate and resolute actions to find the killers and bring them to justice.

The murder of Wickramatunga follows a bomb attack against Transparency International Sri Lanka’s Executive Director J. C. Weliamuna in September 2008, which has yet to be fully investigated, and the 6 January storming of the MTV/MBC television studios near Colombo by 15 masked gunmen."the hard hitting statement said.