Sri Lanka journalists in danger, media rights groups say

Jan 30, 2008 (LBO) – The safety of journalists in Sri Lanka is in jeopardy with increasing attacks and threats against them that are meant to stifle freedom of opinion, international media rights groups have said. Attacks against journalists were bringing the government into disrepute and eroding democracy in the island, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders said in separate statements.

The watchdog groups were also critical of calls by defence ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the brother of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, for censorship and legal action against journalists critical of the government’s war effort.

The groups called on the government to investigate the attacks in an impartial manner and bring the culprits to justice.

“. . . the safety of journalists in Sri Lanka is in serious jeopardy as several serious attacks and anti-media statements by government officials demonstrate a lack of respect for the value of media freedom in the country,” the IFJ said.

“Continuing attacks and harassment are intended to send a message to the media community and to spread fear.

“Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any civil democr