Even as threats against journalists in eastern Sri Lanka reached alarming levels over the last few weeks, Reporters without Borders had been conducting an investigation in the country. It has just released a series of nine recommendations to sustainably improve the state of press freedom on the island.
In the wake of Aiyathurai Nadesan’s murder in May 2004 in the eastern city of Batticaloa, Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim journalists described the difficulties facing province-based correspondents. Before he was killed, Nadesan had told Reporters without Borders: "We are always caught in the crossfire. It is very hard for us to check our information with both the security forces and the Tamil Tigers. And when a local news article is released from Colombo, we may face reprisals in the field."
During a fact-finding mission in Sri Lanka early this year, Reporters without Borders interviewed dozens of journalists. The majority expressed their apprehensions and frustrations in dealing with a situation that has become much too volatile for them to assert that press freedom is a given in the country. Moreover, the association has noted new outbreaks of threats and assaults against journalists within the last few weeks.
The impunity which prevails in cases involving the murder and assault of journalists is seriously jeopardising press freedom and the peace process in Sri Lanka. Reporters without Borders urges the Sri Lankan government and President Chandrika Kumaratunga to take immediate action to find and punish the perpetrators.
The international organisation has drawn up nine recommendations for sustainably improving the safety and freedom of the country’s journalists. These recommendations underline the urgent need to:
1. Fight impunity;
2. Put an end to threats against journalists;
3. Give the ceasefire control authority greater powers;
4. Ensure the autonomy of the state-owned media;
5. Prevent the violations committed by the security forces;
6. Force the LTTE to accept pluralism and criticism;
7. Protect the Muslims’ right to freedom of expression;
8. Ensure the safety and independence of province-based correspondents;
9. Put a stop to hate-mongering in the media.
Read or download the report
Press Release in Sinhala