The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) is deeply concerned by reports that officials of the Sri Lankan Police's
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) visited the office of the web-based
news portal www.lankaenews.com on June
17 and questioned editor Sandaruwan Senadeera
and news editor Benet Rupasinghe for more than three hours.
The CID visit to the office of www.lankaenews.com was reportedly
provoked by a report published in February. CID officers wanted the editors to
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an
IFJ affiliate, the news portal was among eight media institutions named
recently by Sri Lanka's
Ministry of Defence as being "treacherous" and "partial to terrorists".
Sandaruwan Senadeera has reportedly received
threatening phone calls and hate mail for more than a year.
The IFJ is further informed that
Lakshman Hulugalla, Director of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS),
complained recently of a violation of "guidelines" issued by his agency in
August 2006, which require, among other things, that all news related to
national security be submitted to the MCNS for scrutiny before publication or
The IFJ endorses the FMM view that
the MCNS guidelines intrude into media autonomy and amount to censorship. It
also defends the right of journalists to protect their sources of information.
"The right to protect the
confidentiality of sources is a cornerstone of press freedom and commonly
essential for securing information of great public importance," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
"At the same time, any complaints of
alleged violations of the basic principles of quality journalism, such as
respecting facts and getting all sides of a story, should be dealt with through
established and independent grievance redressal processes."
The IFJ supports the five
organisations representing journalists in Sri Lanka - the FMM, the Federation
of Media Employee's Trade Unions (FMETU), the Sri Lanka Working Journalists'
Association (SLWJA), the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) and the Sri Lanka
Tamil Journalists' Alliance (SLTJA) - in questioning the mandate of the MCNS
to lay down rules of conduct for journalism.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries