Media group says Sri Lanka journalists harassed

July 18, 2008 (AFP) – Journalists covering Sri Lanka’s war with Tamil Tiger rebels are being harassed despite a government pledge to take action to protect the press, a rights group said Friday.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) reported eight incidents of threats and intimidation, just two weeks after a ministerial committee was formed to look at the issue of media rights.

The incidents included verbal death threats, assaults in public places and visits to journalists’ homes by people claiming to be from the police, the statement said.

“It is apparent that the cabinet sub-committee… is powerless to foster media freedom and the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, or investigate meaningfully the violence directed at journalists,” the FMM said.

The rights group demanded a probe into the recent incidents and asked the committee to tell police to respect journalists.

In June, Sri Lanka’s hawkish defence ministry published several editorials which labelled journalists and reporters “cowboy defence analysts” and “enemies of the state.”

The defence ministry presented reporters with a stark choice of being either pro-government or “pro-terrorist” — sparking renewed alarm amo