The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed that Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Investigation Division has again used the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to detain another Tamil journalist without charge.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, a group of 13 people identifying themselves as police officials arrested Vettri FM Radio’s general manager, A.R. Vanna Loshan, at his home late on November 14.
Loshan, who has worked as a radio journalist for almost 10 years and took up his post at the Tamil-language radio station in early 2008, is being detained at the TID detention centre in Colombo.
“A.R. Vanna Loshan is the third media worker to be detained under the alarmingly vague and oppressive PTA for matters related to his work as a journalist,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
On March 7 and 8, TID officials arrested senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam and printing press owner N. Jesiharan and his partner Valarmathi applying the PTA.
The three were held without charge for more than five months until formal indictments under the PTA were issued in August. Court proceedings against the three are currently under way.
“The Government’s use of draconian legislation against the media in the name of national security is a clear effort to undermine press freedom and silence voices of dissent in Sri Lanka,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“The IFJ calls on authorities in Sri Lanka to desist from using the PTA against the media, and to recognise that the questionable application of the PTA is further diminishing Sri Lanka’s standing in the international community.”
The IFJ joins the five leading media organisations in Sri Lanka, the FMM, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Union (FMETU) – all IFJ affiliates – and the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) and the Sri Lankan Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA), in calling on the Government to bring Loshan before the courts immediately or release him without delay.