IFJ Concerned by Lack of Information on Arrested Journalist in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists today expressed concern over the refusal of Kurunagala police to give information on the arrest of journalist Subramanium Ramesh on August 19, 2005.

Kurunagala police arrested Subramanium Ramesh, a Tamil language correspondent for the daily Veerakesaree, under emergency laws. Representatives of the Free Media Movement, an IFJ affiliate, in Sri Lanka have been unable to gain any further information or details surrounding the arrest.

"The IFJ is concerned that the arrest is not adhering to the rule of law in Sri Lanka," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

"It is imperative that the legal process be a transparent one, that ensures the right to information on arrested persons," said the IFJ President.

In another disturbing development on August 20, 2005, a grenade was thrown into Sudaroli newspaper office, a Tamil language publication, in Wellawatta, Colombo. The grenade did not explode and a special police squad later removed it.

Reports suggest that the attack may be part of retaliatory violence unleashed by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and anti-LTTE armed groups, reflecting a broader, disturbing trend of attacks against the Sri Lankan media.

These events follow in the wake of the killing of journalist Relangi Selvarajah and her husband on August 12, 2005, who were shot dead by unknown attackers. Relangi Selvarajah 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).

"These recent events represent a disturbing tendency to view the media as a prime target of violence and aggression in achieving broader political aims," said Warren.

"The Sri Lankan government must act to ensure that those responsible for such acts of aggression are brought to justice to ensure the rights of journalists are protected and respected," said the IFJ President.

"Journalists should not be viewed as pawns to be used within broader political games - such actions are self-defeating and undermine the important role that only a free and independent media can play during these turbulent times," said Warren.

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries