Police Accused of Attack on Journalist During Curfew in Sri Lanka

 

The International Federation

of Journalists (IFJ) demands an immediate investigation into allegations that

police verbally and physically abused a journalist as he attempted to report on

public disruption caused by an unannounced curfew in Batticaloa in Sri Lanka’s

east.

 

According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate,

Kalmunai media house journalist Mohamed Hussein was beaten by officers from the

Eravur police as he tried to talk with members of the public about the sudden 6am

to 6pm curfew imposed by police at the Chathurukondan check-point.

 

Two police officers armed with rifles and baton sticks reportedly stopped

Hussein on his bicycle near Eravur town and,

despite his presentation of his media identification,

beat him with the baton and yelled abusively. 

 

Earlier, Hussein was traveling

to work at Kalmunai media house, run

by Internews,

when his bus was stopped at the Chathurukondan checkpoint. Passengers were informed

of the curfew and the bus was forced to return to town.

 

A correspondent with Thinakaran daily

and a colleague of Hussein, Mohamed

Ismail Farook, lodged a complaint about

the incident with the officer-in-charge at the Eravur police station.

 

However, while the officer

reportedly accepted the complaint and requested Hussein return to the station

later in the evening, Hussein was

then told he was not available.

 

“It is baffling why police would physically attack a journalist who is

trying to gather information to inform the public about an unannounced curfew,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

said.

 

“Verbal or physical assaults by police against members of the media must

not be tolerated.”

 

The IFJ joins the FMM in

requesting the authorities take immediate disciplinary action against the two police

officers and stress to them the importance of journalists’ right of passage to

report on any emergency situation that affects the safety of the general

public.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide