Sri Lanka government urged to respect media rights

June 22, 2008 (LBO) – Twenty nine media organisations around the world have urged the United Nations to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to protect journalists in the island. The organisations affiliated to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that journalists in Sri Lanka had been receiving threats and had been abused by the authorities.

The letter was written to alert the UN secretary-general to statements by Sri Lanka’s government and military that “put journalists in grave danger”.

It said that in commentaries published on its website on Thursday 5 June 2008, the Defence Ministry labelled journalists critical of the war effort against Tamil rebels as “enemies of the state” and said it would take “all necessary measures to stop this journalistic treachery.”

This follows comments last January by Army Commander Sarath Fonseka who labelled some journalists as traitors.

“(We) condemn these statements, which risk encouraging those who have used extreme violence against journalists and other news professionals in the country,” the letter said.

The global survey of news media casualties, p