SLWJA Hands Over Groundbreaking Report on Journalist Safety During Galleface Protests to Sri Lanka’s Inspector General of Police
The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) presented a research report on the challenges faced by journalists during the 2022 Galleface protests to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on May 3, 2023, at the Sri Lanka Police Headquarters.
The SLWJA released a research report on the challenges faced by journalists during the 2022 Galleface Protests, which was conducted by Dr Rajni Gamage of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and independent researchers Harindra B. Dasanayake and Aparna Hettiarachi.
The report covers incidents that took place between March 30 and August 31, 2022, and indicates that journalists in Sri Lanka have long worked in an environment of high social and political instability, highlighting the need for a formal program to protect and promote freedom of expression in the country.
The report emphasizes that it is essential for different levels of society to work together to address these challenges, with a particular focus on building trust between security forces and journalists to minimize conflict reporting and prevent harm to both parties.
The handover was carried out by Senior Researcher Harindra B. Dasanayake, President of SLWJA Duminda Sampath Acting Secretary S. Nishanthan, Treasurer T. Nadarasa, and Committee Member Lakshman Muthuthantirige.
Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Ajith Rohana and Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police Nihal Talduwa received the report on behalf of IGP C. D. Wickramaratne.
මාධ්යවේදීන්ට සහ නිරායුධ ජනතාවට අමානුෂික ලෙස පහරදීම හෙළාදකිමු !
ඩලස් අලහප්පෙරුම මහතා
කිරුළපන – කොළඹ 05.
මාධ්යවේදීන්ට සහ නිරායුධ ජනතාවට අමානුෂික ලෙස පහරදීම හෙළාදකිමු !
රට තුළ උද්ගතවී ඇති දැඩි ආර්ථික අර්බුදය හේතුවෙන් පීඩාවට පත්ව සිටින ජනතාව 2022 මාර්තු 31 දින නුගේගොඩ මිරිහාන ප්රදේශයේ සිදුකළ උද්ඝෝෂණය වාර්තා කිරීමට ගිය මාධ්යවේදීන්ට සහ උද්ඝෝෂණයේ යෙදුනු නිරායුධ ජනතාවට පොලිසිය සහ ආරක්ෂක අංශ විසින් සිදුකළ අමානුෂික පහරදීම ශ්රී ලංකා වෘත්තීය ජනමාධ්යවේදීන්ගේ සංගමය දැඩි පිළිකුලෙන් යුතුව හෙළා දකියි.
මෙම අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීම් සහ පහරදීම් මහජනතාවට සත්ය තොරතුරු දැනගැනීමට ඇති අයිතියට මෙන්ම මාධ්යවේදීන් සහ මාධ්ය ආයතනවලට එල්ල කරන ලද බරපතල අනතුරු හැඟවීමක් වන අතර ඒ මගින් සිදුකරන්නේ මාධ්යවේදීන් සහ මාධ්ය ආයතන විසින් මහජනතාව වෙත ගෙන යා යුත්තේ රජයට හිතකර පුවත් පමණක් බව අවධාරණය කිරීමද යන බරපතල සැකය මතුවී ඇත.
චතුර දේශාන්, අවංක කුමාර, නිසල් බදුගේ, වරුණ වන්නිආරච්චි, එම්. ඒ. පුෂ්පකුමාර, නිශ්ශංක, සංජීව ගාල්ලගේ, ප්රදීප් සංජීව, සුමේධ සංජීව, ප්රදීප් වික්රමසිංහ සහ සුලෝචන ගමගේ යන මාධ්යවේදීන් මෙසේ පහරකෑම් වලට ලක්වී ඇතිබව මේ වනවිට තහවුරු වී ඇති අතර, ඇතැම් මාධ්යවේදීන් තවමත් රෝහල්ගතව ඇත. මාධ්යවේදීන් බව තහවුරු කිරීමෙන් පසුවද පොලිසිය සහ ආරක්ෂක අංශයෙන්යැයි කියාගත් පිරිසක් විසින් ඔවුන් අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන ඇති අතර එක් මාධ්යවේදියෙක් ජීප් රථයක නංවාගෙන ගොස් පහරදී නැවත මිරිහාන පොලිස් ස්ථානයට ගෙනවිත් භාරදී ඇතැයිද දැනගන්නට ලැබී ඇත.
මින් පෙර බොහෝ අවස්ථාවලදී මාධ්යවේදීන්ට රජයේ අනුග්රහය ලබන පිරිස් විසින් සිදුකරන විවිධ හිංසන පිළිබඳව ජනමාධ්යය විෂය භාර අමාත්යවරයා ලෙස ඔබව දැනුවත් කර එවැනි දේ නැවත සිදුවීම වැලැක්වීමට අවශ්ය පියවර ගැනීම සඳහා මැදිහත්වෙන ලෙස ඉල්ලා සිටියද, ඒ පිළිබඳව මෙතෙක් ක්රියාත්මක නොවීම මත දිගින් දිගටම මාධ්යවේදීන් හිංසනයට ලක්වෙන බව අප සංගමය තරයේ විශ්වාස කරන අතර, මෙම අවස්ථාවේදීවත් මාධ්යවේදීන්හට පහරදුන් පුද්ගලයින්ට එරෙහිව නීතිය ක්රියාත්මක කර, අප සහෝදර මාධ්යවේදීන්ට සාධාරණය ඉටුකරදීමට මැදිහත්වෙන ලෙස ඉල්ලාසිටිමු.
දුමින්ද සම්පත් ෆ්රෑන්ක් ද සොයිසා
Philippines: Cyber-libel charges against Maria Ressa dismissed
A global coalition supporting Filipino journalist Maria Ressa has welcomed the dismissal of cyber-libel charges against the Rappler CEO and founder. It is the second spurious charge against Ressa to be dropped in just two months. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the #HoldTheLine coalition call for all remaining charges to be immediately dropped and the endless pressure against Ressa and Rappler to be ceased.
In a hearing on August 10, a Manila court dismissed the case “with prejudice” after the complainant, college professor Ariel Pineda, informed the court he no longer wished to pursue the cyber-libel claim against Ressa and Rappler reporter Rambo Talabong. The move follows the dismissal on June 1 of a separate spurious cyber-libel case brought by businessman Wilfredo Keng, also “with prejudice” after Keng indicated he did not wish to continue to pursue the claim.
The #HTL steering committee said: “We welcome the overdue withdrawal of this trumped-up charge against Maria Ressa, which was the latest in a cluster of cases intended to silence her independent reporting. We call for the remaining charges against Ressa and Rappler to be dropped without further delay, and other forms of pressure against them immediately ceased.”
Ressa was convicted on a prior spurious cyberlibel charge in June 2020, based on a complaint made by Wilfredo Keng in connection with Rappler’s reporting on his business activities. If the charge is not overturned on appeal, Ressa faces a possible six years in prison. Ressa and Rappler are also facing six other charges, including criminal tax charges; if convicted on all of these, Ressa could be looking at many years cumulatively in prison.
The #HTL coalition, of which the IFJ is a member, continues to urge supporters around the world to add their voices to a continuous online protest that will stream until the charges against Ressa and Rappler are dropped, and to don a #HTL mask in solidarity. The joint #HTL petition also remains open for signature.
The NUJP welcomes the dismissal of the cyber libel case against Maria Ressa and journalist, Rambo Talabong, but noted again that this was just one of many cases filed against her and Rappler.
NUJP Chairperson, Jonathan De Santos said: “While this is a welcome development, libel and cyber libel remain a threat to press freedom and to media workers. We join in their relief that the case has been dismissed and join them as well in the continuing call to decriminalize libel. That someone can be jailed for a story is a throwback to colonial times and is incompatible with the freedoms of the press and of speech that are essential to democracy.”
The IFJ said: “The dismissal of the cyber libel charge against Maria Ressa is the right step forward for journalist rights in the Philippines, however, the IFJ calls for the government to drop the remaining charges and to allow Ressa to report without fear of harassment or arrest.”
Note: The #HTL Coalition comprises more than 80 organisations around the world.
Image – Philippine journalist Maria Ressa speaks to members of the media as she arrives to a court in Manila on March 4, 2021. Credit: Maria Tan / AFP
Pakistan: Journalist in ICU after attack by a political mob
Ghulam Qadir Shar, a Pakistani journalist, working for Time News and Daily Panhanji Akhbar, was attacked by a local political leader’s supporters in Sanghar, Sindh province. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Pakistan affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), call on the Pakistani authorities to provide justice for the journalist and create security mechanisms to ensure the safety of all journalists in Pakistan.
Ghulam Qadir Shar was attacked by the sons and supporters of Kamal Uddin Shar while returning home on August 13. Kamal Uddin Shar is the local leader of the Pakistan People’s Party in Workshop City, Sanghar and a prominent landlord. Ghulam Qadir Shar was severely beaten and received emergency medical treatment at Civil Hospital Hyderabad for brain damage. Doctors referred Ghulam Qadir Shar to the Civil Hospital Karachi for intensive medical treatment, where he is currently in the ICU.
Ghulam Qadir Shar recently reported on Kamal Uddin Shar conducting illegal Jirga, an outlawed traditional meeting where a landlord decides on a dispute between two parties.
The inspector general of Sindh Police, Mushtaq Maher has noted the incident and filed a case under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Police are yet to arrest Ghulam Qadir Shar’s attackers.
IFJ’s affiliate, PFUJ, urges authorities to arrest the nominated culprits and put them behind bars. PFUJ also called for free medical treatment for the injured journalist and financial assistance for his family.
The PFUJ said: “The PFUJ stands with the injured journalist Ghulam Qadir Shar and strongly condemns this brutalness against a journalist just for performing his professional duty.”
The IFJ said: “The IFJ urges Pakistan’s authorities to ensure the safety of the journalists in the country and to fulfil their international obligation regarding freedom of the press. The perpetrators of this heinous attack against Ghulam must be held accountable.”
Afghanistan: Governments must help Afghanistan’s human rights defenders
After a week of steady gains by Taliban militants, who captured dozens of cities across Afghanistan in a lightning offensive, the country’s capital of Kabul fell to Taliban control on August 15. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) sent a message of solidarity and strength to the country’s media community and urges governments and the international community to provide urgent support and protection to Afghan media workers.
As President Ashraf Ghani fled the country via aircraft, Taliban militants poured into the capital late on August 15, meeting little resistance from security forces and sending the city into chaos as tens of thousands of people attempted to escape via land and air. Thousands of people later swamped the international airport, attempting to flee and thrust the facility into chaos. Two decades after being ousted from power, the Taliban was back in control of the country.
Over the past 90 days, as provinces and districts were seized by Taliban groups, radio networks across the country have also shut down accompanied by violence and threats against media workers. Many media staff fled for fear of losing their lives for working at stations targeted for broadcasting music, supporting female workers and news reporters. Any stations left operating are understood to be now following the instructions of the Taliban.
IFJ affiliate, the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) said that 18 of the country’s 34 provinces were now “under strong influence of Taliban” and “almost all of the workers and activists have left their homes and escaped”. It said at least 140 media outlets were now “disabled” in the provinces of Herat, Badghis, Ghor, Uruzgan, Zabul, nimroz, Jawzjan, Kunduz, Sare Pul, Takhar, Samangan, Farah, Baghlan, Badakshan, Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Logar and Wardak. Over 1,200 journalists and media workers have lost their jobs, with many more under threat.
Across the country, journalists now face continuing serious threats because of their work, particularly those who have made high-profile reports with war lords or high-ranking officials. Women media workers remain a critical concern. In recent months, hundreds of women media workers have been forced to flee the country, been banned from working or even subjected to targeted murderous attacks. Since the beginning of 2021, at least 30 media workers have been killed, wounded or tortured in the country.
The IFJ said: “All media professionals covering the situation in Afghanistan are currently risking their lives and remain a grave concern. The IFJ and journalists around the world are sending the messages of solidarity and support in the uncertain and devastating days, weeks and months ahead.”
In 20 years, Afghanistan’s expansion of freedom of expression, journalism and media development had been one of its biggest achievements. At the same time, hundreds of national and international journalists lost their lives in the course of carrying out their professional duties.
The AIJA said: “We are really thankful to the international communities that they have been providing all these assistances to Afghanistan journalism community.”
The IFJ is working urgently with its affiliates, the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) and Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union (ANJU), to provide emergency support to help journalists take protective measures and seek safety.
IFJ and its affiliates are also lobbying governments in a number of countries to provide emergency visas and logistical support to enable those most at threat to leave the country. Affiliates in neighbouring countries are working to develop avenues of support and ensure safe passage for journalists forced to leave the country.
The US government has already made journalists eligible for a visa program that could allow them to leave the country but most are yet to be evacuated.
The acting interim chief executive of the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees broadcasters, said in an email on August 15 that the agency was “doing everything in our power to protect” journalists and “will not back down in our mission to inform, engage, and connect Afghans in support of freedom and democracy.”
The IFJ has established a special Afghanistan Solidarity Fund within the IFJ Safety Fund to channel further support and urge those who can donate. All funds raised will go directly to providing support to Afghan colleagues.
The IFJ said: “The unravelling humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is deeply devastating and the IFJ extends solidarity to journalists, media workers and activists who have bravely conducted their work throughout the conflict. The IFJ calls on Taliban leaders to exercise restraint and stand by their word that media workers will not be targeted.”
The IFJ also said: “After 20 years of international intervention in Afghanistan, the global community has a duty to acknowledge the vital work of journalists, media workers and other human rights defenders, but also to do the utmost to protect them for that professionalism and sacrifice at tremendous personal risk. The IFJ urges governments around the world to act and provide support to media workers in Afghanistan and those who have fled to ensure they are safe.”
Image -A US military helicopter is pictured flying above the US embassy in Kabul on August 15, 2021. Credit: Wakil KOHSAR / AFP
Reopen the investigation into the murder of journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan and punish the killers before the law.
The Attorney General has informed the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court that no further action will be taken against the suspects arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan and the suspects have been acquitted.
Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) is deeply disturbed by this Attorney General’s notification and the court proceedings that followed, and is paying close attention to the facts that
Attorney General is making this announcement two decades after reporting the murder of journalist Nimalarajan to the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court, without mentioning the need to investigate other suspects, if any, involved in the brutal murder and also without informing the IGP.
Accordingly, it is now clear that there is no suspect in the murder of journalist Nimalarajan and that he was not killed. He has been made to decide whether he committed suicide. Allowing assassins to go free in this way is a threat to a democratic society. It is also a threat to media freedom when the crime is committed against the media.
In this regard, we urge the Attorney General and the IGP to reopen the investigation into the murder of journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Concerning the problems faced by journalists in the face of the spreading Covid-19 pandemic
Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella MP,
Minister of Information and Mass Media,
Ministry of Information and Mass Media,
Concerning the problems faced by journalists in the face of the spreading Covid-19 pandemic
As you know, the majority of journalists working in many media institutions live outside the Colombo District. Most of them use public transportation, such as bus or train, to get to their workplaces. In the face of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation, they are at a higher risk of contracting the disease by using public transportation. They must also provide themselves with the minimum hygiene equipment they need, such as masks and sanitizers. They have to travel to different places to engage in media work, which also puts them at high risk of contracting the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) has called on all media outlets to provide transportation and personal hygiene equipment to their employees in the early stages of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has not been met. Our Association regrets that these facilities are not provided, at least in the state media.
The situation of local and freelance journalists is also deplorable. Many media outlets have fired those who worked on a contract basis and as freelancers for their organizations, claiming that they were making a loss. The monthly income of many freelance journalists has fallen below the Rs. 15000/00 limit due to reductions of allowances.
Therefore, SLWJA kindly request you to make arrangements for the provision of face masks and sanitizers, which are essential minimum hygiene equipment for journalists, working in all media institutions.
We also urge you to give priority to journalists in vaccinating against the Covid-19 pandemic and to intervene to ensure that this is done within the media outlrts. The public’s right to know information is also being hampered as a significant number of journalists and media personnel are already infected with Covid-19.
Furthermore, many journalists have faced problems in repaying the ‘Media Aruna‘ loan given to them by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information. If any concessions are made for this purpose, SLWJA would appreciate it.
Since many journalists today work in the media through the Internet, finally, SLWJA respectfully request you to intervene to provide a special Any time Data Package for mobile phone SIMs provided to journalists by the Department of Government Information at a reasonable price.
‘RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES CHARTER’ for journalists
‘RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES CHARTER’ for journalists in Sri Lanka prepared by Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, launched yesterday, 17th July 2020 at SLPI Auditorium. Mr. Nalaka Kaluwewa (Director of Govt. Information) Mr. Janaka Paranamana (Addl. Commissioner General of Labour) Mr. Kumar Nadesen (Chairman, PCCSL & SLPI), Mr. Siri Ranasinghe (Chairman, Editors Guild of Sri Lanka), witnessed the event together with other invitees.
OBSTRUCTION AND INTIMIDATION TOWARDS PHOTO JOURNALIST AKILA JAYAWARDENE
Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) strongly condemns with disgust obstruction and intimidation towards Photo Journalist Akila Jayawardene attached to Mavubima Newspaper, yesterday (10th July 2020) by Neomal Rangajeewa – Inspector of Police at High court premises, Colombo.
It is reported that Akila was covering the moment of entering the key suspect of the assassination of prisoners of Welikada prison and ex OIC of Police Narcotics Division, Neomal Rangajeewa into the high court premises to attend the said court case. While he was taking photographs, Neomal Rangajeewa grabbed Akila from his shirt collar and took him to the Police Post in the high court premises forcibly and threatened him even without taking any notice to the media identity issued by the Ministry of Mass media. Also he has taken the memory card from Akila’s camera.
It is our belief that as a result of such incidents take place specially in a places like court premises where general public still believe that law is assured, journalists will face difficulties in performing their duties freely and the general public will lose their right to know the truth. We have to recall that this is not the first incident took place in court premises, and believe that repetition of such incidents occur due to the failure of taking proper legal action against such incidents previously by relevant authorities.
Every professional journalist have an equal right to perform their duties according to the law of the country. Therefore, Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association urge the relevant authorities to carry out an impartial inquiry into this and also request to take necessary action to avoid repetition of such incidents in the future.
SEIZING OF PROFESSIONAL COMPUTER AND ACCESSORIES BELONGS TO MS. DAREESHA BASTIAN, SENIOR JOURNALIST BY OFFICERS FROM CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT
Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association has been reported that Officers from Criminal Investigation Department have inspected the residence of Ms. Dareesha Bastian, former editor of Sunday Observer/senior Journalist on court order and seized her professional computer and related accessories on 9th June 2020. They have recorded statements from her family members as well.
It is also reported that on a previous occasion, CID officers attempted to search her residence without a court order and she and her associates have been questioned on an alleged abduction of a female employee of swiss embassy, several times.
It is our belief that when a journalist is being faced to a judicial or any other inquiry, it has to comply with the international standards for journalists set by internationally recognized organizations and investigations must be carried out without any prejudice to the source of informations.
Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association hereby requests the authorities to hand over Ms. Dareesha Bastian’s professional computer and accessories as quickly as possible after finishing the investigations.