The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins it affiliate Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) in expressing concerns about the questioning of a newspaper editor by the Criminal Investigation Department of Police on Sunday, April 9.
Saman Wagarachchi, the editor of leading Sinhala language newspaper Lakbima was summoned by the police over a satirical photo caption.
The photo depicted the Chairperson of Seva Vanitha Unit of the Ministry of Defence, Mrs Ioma Rajapaksa, receiving a donation from a well-wisher. The tongue-in-cheek photo headline read “Hora Salli Nemeine”, which can be loosely translated into English as “not fake notes, right?” Mrs Rajapaksa is the wife of powerful defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Wagarachchi was extensively questioned on the motives of the publication of the photo caption.
The SLWJA said in a statement: “We are concerned that the incumbent administration believes satirical content of a newspaper deserves to be investigated by the CID.”
The IFJ joins with the SLWJA in demanding that the government respect media freedom and put an end to the intimidation of the media.
The IFJ said: “Intimidation of newspaper editors and journalists by the use of state apparatus has been a long entrenched practice of Sri Lankan governments.”
“The IFJ firmly believes that media content should not be the subject of criminal investigation. The incident of police summoning and questioning an editor over a satirical photo caption is preposterous and clearly an attempt to intimidate the Sri Lankan media.”
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