IFJ Condemns Killing of Sri Lankan TV Presenter as Violence Against Journalists Spirals out of Control

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the killing of journalist Relangi Selvarajah and her husband on August 12, 2005, who were shot dead by unknown gunmen at around 1pm in Bambalapitiya, Colombo Sri Lanka.

Relangi Selvarajah had previously worked as a TV presenter with the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRC) and was working as a journalist with Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC).

"The IFJ is deeply saddened by the death of Sevarajah and her husband, and we send our condolences to their family, friends and colleagues," said IFJ President Christopher Warren. "The spiralling conditions of intimidation and violence journalist face in Sri Lanka are absolutely unacceptable," said the IFJ President.

"The Sri Lankan government must investigate the murders and bring the perpetrators to justice to reassure journalists that it is doing its utmost to protect them and uphold journalists' rights," said Warren.

According to reports, the killing has the trademarks of an ongoing killing spree between rival Tamil groups, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and break away faction of LTTE Karuna group.

The killing occurred less than 24 hours before the government declared a state-of-emergency following the assassination of Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Media workers are becoming increasingly caught up in the cross-fire of rival Tamil groups and the killing of Relangi Selvarajah comes less than four months after the murder of leading Tamil journalist, Sivaram Dharmeratnam on April 29 this year.

The IFJ calls on the Sri Lankan government to ensure journalists' rights are respected and upheld during the state-of-emergency "Killing journalists is not going to resolve the disunity and conflict in Sri Lanka. It is not the way towards a strong democracy and it is not the way towards peace," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

"The IFJ is deeply concerned that the situation for journalists in Sri Lanka is only going to get worse if the killings go unpunished and rival factions refuse to negotiate a peaceful resolution," said the IFJ President. "We strongly urge all parties, including the LTTE and LTTE Karuna, to stop targeting journalists and respect the rights press to report freely and independently," said Warren.

For more information contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries