Sri Lanka: Assault on Senior Journalist in Ampara District

Press release/ 06 January 2011

NfR reports with indignation the assault on Mr. P.M.M.A.Cader (53) , a senior multi-lingual journalist working in the Ampara District in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. He is the Provincial Correspondent for Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited and also works for some other Tamil language media as well. Following this attack he is under treatment at the Maruthamunai Hospital in Kalmunai, for dizziness and headache.

According to NfR sources in the district, Mr. Cadar had been assaulted by a member of the Kalmunai Municipal Council on 04th January 2011 while he was on his way to Murathamunai to report on the distribution of food to flood victims of the area. The politician who is alleged to have assaulted him belongs to the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. He had demanded that his version on the distribution of goods as flood relief should be reported.

The assault on Mr. Cader was a sequel to his declining to accede to this demand by this politician. Although Mr. Cader had made a prompt complaint at the Kalmunai Police Station, the politician concerned has neither been arrested or questioned so far.

This incidence confirms that the culture of impunity has pervaded into all levels of governance in Sri Lanka. Even at local level, ruling party politicians wield unhindered power to intimidate, threaten and assault journalists, public officials and their political opponents without any fear of having to face any legal consequences. Anyone who does not fall in line with the wishes of politicians of the ruling power has to invariably face all kinds of harassment and even other more serious consequences.

The assault on Mr. Cader is also another example of the anti- media culture prevailing among politicians of the ruling party in Sri Lanka today. NfR is of the view that unless clear signals are sent from the centre on the rights of Provincial correspondents to report on the events in the Provinces independently, this kind of intimidations and threats to media personnel will continue unabated. NfR demands that the Police authorities in Kalmunai to take immediate steps to investigate into this incident and bring the culprits to book. Such an action will also help to re-assure the public that the Police will act independently in the maintenance of law and order in the country.

Issued by Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

Steering committee : Iqbal MCM ( The Netherlands),Kshama Ranawana ( Canada) Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)

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