The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins Sri Lanka’s five leading organisations of journalists in calling for an immediate inquiry into the illegal detainment of a senior Jaffna journalist by supporters of Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition on February 27.
N. Parameswaran, Jaffna correspondent for the Daily Mirror, Lankadeepa and the BBC Tamil service, was held by supporters of the Sri Lanka Peoples’ Party (SLPP), a party within the ruling coalition, as he gathered information from internally displaced peoples (IDPs) from Vanni outside the party’s office in Jaffna.
Parameswaran told the Five Media Collective (also known as the Sri Lanka Five) that he was detained and threatened as he inquired into claims that IDPs were being pushed to fill in party membership forms for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the leading party in the ruling coalition, in exchange for promises of receiving welfare support.
“The detention of Parameswaran violates the right to information and the right of journalists to do their fundamental work in gathering information,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The IFJ respectfully appeals to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in both his capacity as President and as Media and Information Minister, to ensure party cadre do not usurp the right to access information, and to make good on his public statements that police and authorities must inform him immediately if a journalist is arrested or detained.”
The Five Media Collective said in a statement that Parameswaran reported being detained by civil supporters of the SLPP, who took him to SLFP organizer Thilakumara Udugama. His camera and mobile phone were confiscated, and he reported being threatened.
A senior police officer reportedly refused to arrest Parameswaran despite Udugama’s demands. Parameswaran was released after half an hour, and his equipment was returned to him.
Parameswaran has lodged a complaint at the Jaffna police station.
The IFJ joins the Five Media Collective in calling for an inquiry into the manner in which Parameswaran was detained.
In the run-up to general elections in April, the IFJ further requests a public assurance from the President and Government that all journalists working in Jaffna will be able to conduct their work without fear of intimidation or threats.
The Five Media Collective comprises the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Union (FMETU), the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF).
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide