IFJ Concerned About Growing Trend of Intimidation of Journalists in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the reports of a raid on the home of a Sri Lankan Tamil journalist, Sivaram Dharmeratnam (Taraki), by the Sri Lankan Police on Monday, 3 May 2004 – World Press Freedom Day.


According to our information, on 3 May, scores of police personnel raided Dharmeratnam’s home in Colombo and searched the house and its premises alleging that a haul of military fatigue, explosives and fire arms were hidden there. Dharmeratnam’s family was harassed and intimidated by police, and were unaware of the reason for the search due to the warrant being written in Sinhala. Dharmeratnam was not at home during the search.


Dharmeratnam, is a journalist who has been reporting on the Tamil nationalist struggle and who is a political affairs columnist for English and Tamil newspapers and member of the Editorial Board of the news website www.tamilnet.com


The IFJ is deeply concerned over the trend of harassing, intimidating and in extreme cases the murder of journalists reporting in Sri Lanka during the last few years.


The IFJ calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the safety of all journalists working in Sri Lanka.


“Journalists must be allowed to carry out their journalistic duties especially when reporting sensitive issues without facing harassment and intimidation,“ said IFJ President, Christopher Warren today.


The IFJ has called on the Government of Sri Lanka to carry out a fair and unbiased investigation into this incident and make a public statement giving out reasons for this action of the police. IFJ further urges the Government to take steps without delay to prevent any further incidents of a similar nature and make a genuine effort to create an environment conducive for independent journalism to make its mark in a democratic society.


Further information is available on in the IFJ Asia website at www.ifj-asia.org

For further information contact IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668.


The IFJ wrote the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in the following letter:



13 May 2004


Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

Chandrika B. Kumarathunga

President

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Presidential Secretariat

Colombo-1, Sri Lanka

Fax: +94 1 2333703


Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa

Prime Minister

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

58 Sri Ernest de SilvaMwatha,

Colombo –7

Sri Lanka

Fax: +94 1 2542918

Email: templetrees@sltnet.lk



Dear President and Prime Minister,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the raid on the home of a Sri Lankan Tamil journalist, Sivaram Dharmeratnam (Taraki), by the Sri Lankan Police on Monday, 3 May 2004 – World Press Freedom Day.


According to our information, on 3 May, scores of police personnel raided Dharmeratnam’s home in Colombo and searched the house and its premises alleging that a haul of military fatigue, explosives and fire arms were hidden there. Dharmeratnam’s family was harassed and intimidated by police, and were unaware of the reason for the search due to the warrant being written in Sinhala. Dharmeratnam was not at home during the search.


Dharmeratnam is a journalist who has been reporting on the Tamil nationalist struggle and who is a political affairs columnist for English and Tamil newspapers and member of the Editorial Board of the news website www.tamilnet.com


The IFJ is deeply concerned over the trend of harassing, intimidating and in extreme cases the murder of journalists reporting in Sri Lanka during the last few years.


The IFJ calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to make a genuine effort to carry out a fair and unbiased investigation into this incident and make a public statement outlining the motivation for the action taken by the police.


IFJ further urges the Government to take steps without delay to prevent any further incidents of a similar nature and make a genuine effort to create an environment conducive for independent journalism to make its mark in a democratic society.



Yours sincerely



Christopher Warren

IFJ President



CC. Inspector General of Police

Indra De silva

Police Head Quarters

Colombo 1

Fax: +94 1 2446174


CC. Mr. Ranjith Abeysooriya

Chairman

National Police Commission

No. 69/1, Ward Place

Colombo 7

Fax: +94 1 2669528



Recommended Action:


Send appeals to the Government of Sri Lanka:


  • Condemning the raid by police on to the home of Sivaram Dharmeratnam (Taraki),


  • Calling for an investigation into the raid of Sivaram Dharmeratnam (Taraki),


  • Urging the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the safety of all journalists working in Sri Lanka.



    Appeals:


    Chandrika B. Kumarathunga

    President

    Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

    Presidential Secretariat

    Colombo-1, Sri Lanka

    Fax: +94 1 2333703



    Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa

    Prime Minister

    Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

    58 Sri Ernest de SilvaMwatha,

    Colombo –7

    Sri Lanka

    Fax: +94 1 2542918


    Email: templetrees@sltnet.lk


    Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au


    For more information please contact IFJ Asia at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au