IFJ hails release of Parameshawary as a “triumph for justice” in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its relief at the news that Sri Lankan journalist Munusamy Parameshawary has finally been released from custody.

The IFJ has been campaigning for the 23-year-old Mawbima reporter’s release since she was arrested on November 21, 2006, by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lankan Police.

Despite languishing in detention for four months, Parameshawary was released on March 22 without any charges laid against her.

IFJ President Christopher Warren said Parameshawary’s release was a victory for human rights and freedom of the press.

“We are very happy to hear that Parameshawary’s imprisonment is finally at an end,” Warren said.

“This is a triumph for justice and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka,” he said.

“But the fact remains that she should never have been held in the first place.”

“Parameshawary’s detention was a frightening example of the threats to basic human freedoms in Sri Lanka – it is disgraceful that legislation supposedly introduced to protect Sri Lankans from terrorism is instead being used to silence and intimidate the media,” he said.

“It is an important win for those who refuse to bow to government pressure, and gives hope that with solidarity, determination and vigilance, achieving a peaceful, open Sri Lanka is possible.”

Parameshawary was held under Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Prevention laws, and for many weeks was not even allowed access to lawyers, her editor or family.

Prior to her arrest she was reporting on Tamil issues and investigating disappearances in Colombo.

On January 31, the IFJ and journalists’ organisations in more than 10 countries supported a Day of Action led by IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), and wrote to the Sri Lankan government demanding Parameshawary’s release.

Locally more than 500 postcards were sent protesting her detention.

The IFJ acknowledged its gratitude to the many Sri Lankan and international groups and individuals, including the FMM, who campaigned tirelessly for Parameshawary’s release, and commended them for their solidarity.

“The strength and determination of the campaign to free Parameshawary should send a strong message to the Sri Lankan government that violations of press freedom and journalist rights will not be tolerated,” Warren said.

“We urge the Sri Lankan government to heed the voices of international criticism and act decisively to give Sri Lanka the free, safe and independent media it deserves.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries