The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed that senior officials associated with State institutions in Sri Lanka continue to issue extreme threats against independent journalists in the country.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, the chairman of the State-run Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation, Hudson Samarasinghe, publicly threatened and sought to incite violence against respected journalists’ leader Poddala Jayantha, as well as BBC journalist Elmo Fernando, in a radio broadcast on June 8
Jayantha is the general secretary of the Sri Lankan Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), the largest journalists’ organisation in the country and an affiliate of the IFJ.
In a letter to Sri Lanka’s Minister for Mass Media and Information, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, the IFJ calls on the Government to uphold its responsibility for the behaviour of its appointees.
The IFJ urges the Minister to take disciplinary action against Samarasinghe for promoting hate speech.
Minister Yapa is requested to act fully on his ministerial responsibility and accountability for the safety of Jayantha and all other journalists put at risk by inflammatory comments and actions by government members, appointees and employees.
“A senior government appointee who uses hate speech and seeks to incite violence against journalists is actively undermining democratic freedom of expression and freedom of the press, which are guaranteed in Sri Lanka’s constitution,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“The failure to ensure the safety and protection of journalists whose lives have been directly threatened signals to the international human rights and press freedom community that Sri Lanka’s Government is complicit in the culture of impunity against independent media and journalists in Sri Lanka.”