Journalists stabbed for covering illegal sand mining

16.01.2008/Colombo: The Free Media Movement (FMM) expresses its series concern and disappointment on the inability of the Sri Lankan Police to arrest perpetrators who stabbed Bingiriya provincial journalist Mr. Victor Somaweera even after six days of the incident taking place.

The complaint made to the Bingiriya police station by Mr. Victor Somaweera says that he was stabbed and was threatened by a pistol pointed at his head on 10th January 2008. He was admitted to Bingiriya Hospital on the same day for the injuries sustained on account of this incident. The journalist has identified the perpetrators and provided all the necessary information to arrest them in his statement.

The FMM understands that these alleged perpetrators have strong connections to those who control illegal river sand mining. It is a matter of public record that journalists Somaweera has exposed this illegal activity in his reports recently for which we feel these threats were directed against him.

We note with regret that though the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Bingiriya police station when contacted promised to arrest the suspects, there has not been a single person arrested in this regard to date. It is obvious to the FMM that the police are reluctant to take any action against the illegal sand miners because of their political and financial clout.

Unfortunately this is on another attack on media which in what is already a sordid record of the inability of the Sri Lankan Police and relevant authorities to check the killings, abductions, assaults, intimidation and threats against journalists. It is also another marker of the culture of impunity that is growing daily. Expressing our grave concern, we call upon the government and the Police to arrest the suspects and produce them in a court of law without any further delay.