International Press Freedom Mission
today condemned a "culture of impunity and indifference" over
killings and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka. Since the beginning of 2009, the killing of a senior editor and the attack on
the facilities of a popular independent TV channel have led to a total
paralysis of the media community.
a new report, Media Under Fire: Press Freedom Lockdown in Sri Lanka, the International
Mission criticised Sri Lanka’s
Government over its inaction and failure to take the attacks, murder and
assassination of reporters seriously. This has in turn led to an almost total
blackout of independent and objective reporting from the North and East of Sri
Lanka, which have seen the worst of
the country’s long-running civil war.
all the cases of attacks against media and assassinations of reporters, there are few serious investigations by the
authorities and none of the killers are ever brought to trial," the International
Mission said in a joint statement.
hostile environment of intolerance propelled forward by the top political
leadership has created a culture of impunity and indifference, making every day hunting season for attacks on
on its visit to Sri Lanka in October 2008, the International Mission noted
three trends relating to the coverage of the conflict: lack of press access and
independent information flow in the conflict zones; a wave of assaults and
intimidation of journalists covering the conflict; and self-censorship by the
media on the realities of the war.
the mission took place, the
situation for media has continued to deteriorate in Sri Lanka.
On January 6, 2009, the
studio of the Maharaja Television/Broadcasting Network (MTV/MBC) was attacked
by armed gunmen. On January 8,
Lasantha Wickrematunga, editor of The Sunday Leader,
was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle as he drove to work in Colombo. On January 15,
police began a widespread search for MTV Channel 1 Chief Chevaan Daniel after
accusations of him being behind the attack on his station.
to the findings of the International
Mission, reporters and editors
conveying messages that are critical of the Government’s war against the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are labelled as "traitors" and
"terrorists" and they work in an increasingly hostile environment of
censorship and fear.
International Mission is shocked at the repeated instances of elected
representatives and Government Ministers using violent and inflammatory
language against media workers and institutions. Not surprisingly this has
led to widespread self-censorship among journalists in order to protect their
killing of Lasantha and the deaths of at least eight other journalists, along with two disappeared since 2007, illustrates in painful detail just how journalists
and media staff continue to suffer for their profession,"
the International Mission said.
a proper investigation into Lasantha’s assassination and the attack on MTV, there will be no chance at all for the Government
to claim that it assumes responsibility to guarantee the basic safety and
independence of media."
urge Sri Lanka’s
Government to accept the creation of an international commission and to
investigate the two recent attacks in line with requests by Sri Lankan
journalists and media institutions. As a group,
the International Mission will offer
its assistance to form this commission and to participate in the investigation.
Notes to the editors
Since 2006, the International Press Freedom Mission to Sri Lanka has conducted three missions to Sri Lanka. The
most recent mission in October 2008 included representatives from the following
international media organisations:
Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Media Support (IMS)
Press Institute (IPI)
News Safety Institute (INSI)
Without Borders (RSF)
For more information contact:
Brossel, Reporters Without Borders, on: + 33 1 44 83 84 70
Sukumar Muralidharan, International Federation of Journalists, on: +91 124
Shaw, International Media Support,
on: + 1 347 575 8746
To read the full report, click here:
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