Sri Lanka: Two foreign journalists threatened, harassed and robbed in Jaffna

Press release/ 24 July 2011

Sri Lanka: Two foreign journalists threatened, harassed and robbed in Jaffna
NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders   living outside the country is shocked and dismayed that despite claims that  freedom and democratic rights are re-established in the  form ER war zones, recently two foreign journalists were threatened, harassed and robbed in Jaffna the capitol of the northern province.
Two under cover journalists  from the Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) were doing a assignment in Jaffna when, according to RNW they were ‘spied on and reported to the police, who later that night arrived at the hotel for a midnight interrogation. Ten police officers, including the Chief of Police, scared the team into leaving the region. The following morning, on their way back to the well trodden tourist path, they were robbed and attacked at gunpoint by a gang in a white van’
Radio Netherlands has identified the journalists as Olivia and Philip to protect their identity and has not given the exert date of the incident. In the light of past experiences and persisting impunity regarding human rights violations NfR does not except any independent inquiry that will lead to justice, identification and punishment of perpetrators or any affirmation of media freedom in Sri Lanka in relation to this case.
The Government of Sri Lanka keeps a strict control of the written and spoken word in and on  the former theatre of war. Even after more than 26 months have passed since so-called end of the war not a single independent journalist has been allowed to visit the final battle fields. Investigative stories on the final   phase of war from the point of view of victims are non existent. Local journalists do not dare to do any undercover investigative stories on the topic because of their well founded fear of deadly reprisals. This incident shows the fear of ruling regime for the truth and AFFIRMS that they will go any length to stop independent journalism.
The Freedom of expression is a corner stone of democracy andd an essential factor for defending, strengthening and promoting all human rights. Post war Sri Lanka has failed to see the government re-establish the rights to the Freedom of expression of the Sri Lankan people. THE media in Sri Lanka is either politically controlled or has media persons working under today.
NfR call upon all International human rights organisations to take note of this situation and include re-establishing freedom of expression as one of the main pre conditions in their entire advocacy for the promotion and protection of human rights in Sri Lanka.
Issued by
Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka


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