IFJ Concerned About Interrogation of Journalists in Sri Lanka

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

name sources.

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.

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


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