The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka, in condemning the attempt by Minister Palani Digambaram to block access to news of a journalist who was reporting a government event. The IFJ demands that journalists be treated with respect and allowed to carry out their professional duties with dignity.
Palani Digambaram, Minister of Infrastructure and Community Development allegedly ordered the microphone of Sirasa Media correspondent Indika Roshan Kauarachchi to be removed from the podium where he was speaking in Hatton, Central Sri Lanka on Sunday, July 30. Kauarachchi was reporting the event at the invitation of the Government Information Department. Footage from television recordings shows evidence that the Sirasa microphone had been removed from the podium.
Since the incident, supporters of the Minister have continued to threaten Indika.
Free Media Movement Convenor C. Dodawatta and Secretary Dileesha Abeysundara said: “It is unfortunate to see such behaviour by a minister in a government that promised to protect media freedom. Further, Free Media Movement believes that having invited journalists to formally to cover the event, the obstruction seemed to be censorship. This emphasizes the fact that it is impossible to accomplish democracy and good governance without broader media freedom.”
The IFJ said: “The obstruction of a journalists’ professional work at the behest of a Minister is deeply troubling. The IFJ notes with concern that individuals suspected to be supporters of Minister Digambaram have subsequently been threatening journalist Indika Roshan. The government must take all measures to ensure his safety.”
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