Mr. Samaraweera told parliament that journalists who are in hiding in Nepal would be allowed to return to Sri Lanka after the devastating earthquake.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Monday said the government would take steps to bring back those journalists who fled the country to Nepal for safety in recent years. He was making this statement in Parliament on Monday, in response to a query.

Responding to Mr. Sarmaraweera’s assurance, Easwaran Rutnam, officiating editor of Sunday Leader (whose editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was murdered in January 2009) told The Hindu that the Minister’s statement was in continuation with the new government’s stated position on the issue of strengthening democracy and safeguarding human rights. The government had committed itself to a fresh probe into the murder of Wickrematunge and incidents of attack on three other journalists. Its words should be followed up with “tangible steps,” Mr. Rutnam pointed out.

Nearly 30 journalists had gone to various countries including United States, Switzerland and Canada when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President, fearing reprisal. “Many of them are, apparently, waiting for the outcome of the forthcoming elections to Parliament,” Mr. Rutnam said.