The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by last night’s abduction of Lalith Senavirathna (34), a father of one, and a former journalist with the Sinhala language weekly Hiru, which has ceased publication.
According to an IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), a group of around five people identifying themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), visited Senavirathna’s home in Aturugiriya on the evening of February 5, and took him away.
“The IFJ is deeply concerned for Lalith Senavirathna’s safety, and we demand a immediate investigation into his disappearance,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
Senavirathna’s wife reported the abduction at the Athurugiriya police station, however the police told the FMM that the CID have denied Senavirathna is in their custody.
“Senavirathna’s disappearance is even more worrying given the identity of those behind his abduction is uncertain, and we call on the authorities to take swift action to find those responsible and ensure Senavirathna is returned unharmed as soon as possible,” Warren said.
The abduction comes in the wake of last month’s death threats against Hiru’s editor Rohitha Bhashana which forced him to flee the country out of fear for his safety.
“These are all further indications that Sri Lanka is slipping further away from a safe and open society, and the government must take serious steps to ensure the basic rights of journalists are protected, and that kidnappings, intimidation and assaults on journalists are no longer tolerated,” Warren said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries