Twenty-nine IFEX members alert UN secretary-general to statements by government and military



United Nations
Secretariat Building, Room S-3800
New York, NY 10017

Dear Sir,

Under terms of UNSCR 1738 on the protection of journalists in conflict, we write to draw your attention to the alarming situation in Sri Lanka, where statements associated with the government and the military have, in our view, put journalists in grave danger.

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.”

As well as news organisations, the Ministry singled out for criticism the Free Media Movement (FMM), a prominent local rights group.

This follows comments last January by Army Commander Maj.-Gen. Sarath Fonseka who labelled some journalists as traitors. His statement followed a strike by the Sri Lankan Air Force against the official Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) radio station which killed at least three editorial staff the previous November.

The undersigned organisations, all of whom fully support the UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on journalism in conflict zones, condemn these statements, which risk encouraging those who have used extreme violence against journalists and other news professionals in the country.

The global survey of news media casualties, presented to you by the International News Safety Institute last December, placed Sri Lanka 14th out of more than 70 countries where journalists died trying to do their jobs over the past decade. Journalists continue to work there in conditions of fear and harassment.

As you know, Resolution 1738 urges all parties in situations of armed conflict to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.

We seek your support in urging all United Nations member states to respect Resolution 1738 in letter and in spirit, and specifically request your help in persuading the government of Sri Lanka to withdraw these statements and immediately stop all actions which undermine the independence and safety of the news community.


Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Cairo

ARTICLE 19, London

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), Kathmandu

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Manila

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York

Freedom House, New York

Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, Baku

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Brussels

Independent Journalism Center (IJC), Chisinau

Institute of Mass Information (IMI), Kyiv

International News Safety Institute, Brussels

Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), International PEN, London

International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna

Index on Censorship, London

Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (IPYS Venezuela)

Journaliste en danger (JED), Kinshasa

Free Expression Ghana, Accra

Free Media Movement (FMM), Colombo

Maharat Foundation, Beirut

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Accra

Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Lagos

Mizzima News, New Delhi

Media Institute of Southern Africa, Windhoek

National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Mogadishu

Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO), Accra

Norwegian PEN, Oslo

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Suva

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Karachi

Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (SPP), Asunción

World Association of Newspapers (WAN), Paris



Former Journalist abducted in Colombo

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 June 2008, 09:15 GMT]
A former reporter of Colombo Tamil daily Thinakkural, Thiruchelvam Thirukumaran, currently an officer attached to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Environment, was abducted from his house at Dehiwala by a group of men who arrived in a white colour van around 8:45 p.m. Saturday, according to a complaint lodged by his parents with the Dehiwala Police Sunday. The abductors were clad in police uniform.

The victims apartment is located in Luxmi Mahal complex in Dehiwala, a suburb of Colombo.

Five unidentified men, four of them in police uniform and the other in civil arrived in a white van and took Mr. Thirukumaran away.

Earlier, the victim had worked as a part-time reporter for Thinakkural, media sources said.