Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister Threatens Journalists and Media Owners

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the conduct of Sri Lanka's deputy minister, who verbally threatened journalists and media owners on July 25.

In particular, Deputy Minister Mervin Silva used abusive language and threatened to expel from Sri Lanka the owner of two leading television companies - Sirasa TV and Swarnawahini.

The incident took place when journalists had gathered outside the Fort magistrate's court to report on a case involving the deputy minister's son.

"The IFJ certainly values every citizen's right to free expression. However, when a powerful public official resorts to threatening individuals in highly offensive terms, this goes beyond the realm of exercising his right to free speech," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

"It is even more concerning in a country like Sri Lanka where there is a documented history of harassment and intimidation of journalists who criticise the government or are considered to be pro-Tamil," said Warren.

The IFJ, the organisation that represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, stresses the importance of protecting journalists' rights to freedom of speech and expression. It denounces the use of violence or threats that could be used to censor free speech.

In light of this recent incident and the pattern of intimidation of journalists, the IFJ calls upon the Sri Lankan government to call its ministers into line, and specifically to reprimand Deputy Minister Mervin Silva for his unacceptable behaviour and demand a public apology.

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 656 668
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in 110 countries worldwide