By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator
On February 18, we noted that the United Nations in New York finally said it received a letter from Sandhya Eknelygoda, the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda. Sandhya had given the letter to the U. N. representative in Colombo, Neil Buhne, on January 24, the first anniversary of her husband’s disappearance. It was also channeled to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, U. N. spokersman Martin Nesirky said.
Nesirky said at the time that the “letter is now being reviewed. We’ve asked for an update on this, and will let you know when we have it. The disappearance of any journalist anywhere is, of course, a matter of concern, and not just to the secretary-general.”
Friends in Colombo were glad to hear the news, but also warned that Buhne is in the process of rotating our of Colombo, and they have not heard whether a replacement has been named. So it’s not too much to ask if an update has been delivered to the United Nations in New York. Just in case they need one, here it is: No, Sandhya Eknaligoda has learned nothing more of her husband’s fate.
So far, no one from the U. N. has reached out to Sandhya, or even told her that her letter had made it to New York — she learned of it from CPJ. She has been working tirelessly on her husband’s behalf, and the delay of almost a month from her handing it over to Buhne in Colombo and the U. N. acknowledging that it has received it in New York borders on the unconscionable. For the leadership of the United Nations to say that they are waiting for more information is just more of the same obfuscation.
If the U. N. needs more clarification they can easily reach Sandhya Eknaligoda — she included all her contact information in her letter to them.