The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has today condemned recent actions by the Sri Lankan police threatening freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.
“It is the responsibility of the police to work to protect journalists’ rights and to act in the interests of a free press, not against it,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.
On 23 July 2004, a dozen police raided the house of Dharmaratnam Sivaram a columnist with the Daily Mirror and board member of the news website www.tamilnet.com. It was the second raid by police in three months, the previous raid occurring on 3 May.
In a separate incident, on 21 July police disrupted a joint protest organised by press freedom organisations in Colombo. Police blocked the highway to the South and ordered vehicles to take byroads in an effort to disrupt the protest. Up to 400 people attended the demonstration. The demonstration was protesting the police assault on 14 July of journalists covering a funeral in Kosgoda, Galle district in Southern Sri Lanka. At the 14 July incident, police assaulted four journalists.
In a letter to the Government of Sri Lanka, the IFJ condemned the actions taken by the police in these incidents and called for a public explanation for the raid of Sivaram’s house.
“The actions taken by the police are deplorable and the Government needs to act immediately to quash this heavy-handed approach being taken by the Sri Lankan security forces,” said Warren.
In a separate incident, the IFJ has called for an investigation into the shooting of Sada Sangaralingam Kamaladasan, a journalist with the Thinamurusu Tamil weekly on 26 July. Kamaladasan was shot in the legs and is in a critical condition in Batticolo hospital. There is no known motive for the shooting.
The IFJ has condemned the shooting and called on the authorities to launch a full investigation into the attack.
Further information is available on in the IFJ Asia website
For further information contact IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668