Sonali Samarasinghe practiced law in Sri Lanka for twenty years and worked as a journalist and founding editor of the weekly Morning Leader newspaper focusing on human rights, government corruption and gender issues.
Shortly after assassins murdered her husband, the founding editor of the The Sunday Leader, a weekly, that together with The Morning Leader was openly critical of the government, Samarasinghe herself was driven from her country by threats to her own life. Samarasinghe and members of her family left Sri Lanka and emigrated to the United States, where she founded the website The Lanka Standard (http://www.lankastandard.com), of which she remains its editor-in-chief.
Samarasinghe received journalism diplomas from Aquinas College in Sri Lanka and the Australian School of Journalism in Sydney. She has an LL.B. degree from the University of London and attended Sri Lanka Law College after which she was admitted to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka as an attorney at law. Samarasinghe also has a Masters in International Affairs from the Australian National University in Canberra. She has been a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University and an international journalist in residence at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. Among the numerous awards for her work are the Images and Voices of Hope for Print and Digital Media (2011), the International PEN/NOVIB Freedom of Expression Award (2009), the Human Rights Prize of the International Federation of Journalists, the Global Shining Light Award at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (2008), and Zonta International’s Woman of Achievement (2006).
In January 2015, Sri Lanka saw a regime change and a drastic turnaround in policy. The new administration has taken steps to implement transitional justice, truth commissions, reparations and genuine reconciliation. Samarasinghe now works as a diplomat attached to her country’s mission at the United Nations in New York. She handles humanitarian and legal affairs, gender and human rights issues. She is working towards setting up a City of Refuge in Sri Lanka.