Authorities Must Ensure Security of Journalist Under Threat in Sri Lanka

 

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) joins partner organisations in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network

(SAMSN) in calling on the Sri Lanka’s authorities to guarantee the safety of

journalist Shantha Priyadarshana Wijesooriya, target of an attempted abduction in

Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, on July 5, 2012.

 

Wijesooriya is a well-known journalist who currently

works with the online news portal SriLankaXNews.com. The office premises of the

news portal were raided by Sri Lanka’s police on June 29, when several

journalists were arrested and equipment confiscated. Wijesooriya is also a

member of the editorial board of the Sinhala language newspaper, Mawbima and was between 2007 and 2011, a

frequent contributor of investigative stories to the Lanka-e-News web portal.

 

Having earned a reputation for investigative

stories on human rights concerns and official malfeasance, Wijesooriya has

reportedly been under surveillance by security and intelligence agencies in

recent times. A number of suspicious inquiries by intelligence officials in his

home village and frequent telephone calls from these sources have been reported

all through 2011 and later.

 

On July 5, Wijesooriya reported being followed

by three persons, of whom one was recognisable as a person from Sri Lanka’s

intelligence agencies, as he went to a suburb of Colombo city to visit a

friend. The three reportedly made an attempt to force him into a waiting van.

He was able to break free and escape in a three wheeler taxi. He has since been

in hiding and has filed a complaint with Sri Lanka’s Inspector-General of

Police.

 

“We are seriously concerned for the safety of

Wijesooriya, a member of the managing committee of the Sri Lanka Working

Journalists’ Association (SLWJA)”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

 

“We call on Sri Lanka’s government to take

note of urgent public concerns expressed on this count by national and

international press freedom bodies”.

 

“If Wijesooriya comes to any harm in the next

few weeks and months, the burden of proof would be on Sri Lanka’s security and

intelligence agencies to establish that they were not involved”.

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

 

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represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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