Sri Lanka: The arrest of Lankanewsweb.org editor Chathuranga Silva: Let’s be vigilant08 Sep, 2020
It has been reported that the editor of Lanka News Web (www.lankanewsweb.org) Desmond Chathuranga de Silva is in remand custody after he had been subjected to questioning by the Computer Crime Unit of the Police Department.
It is also reported that the reason for the arrest pertained to a news story published on his web site about Hijaz Hizbullah, an attorney-at-law who is currently under custody for his alleged links with Easter Sunday terror attacks. In addition, the police have taken under their custody Desmond Chaturanga’s media equipment including his computer, mobile phone and other devices.
Desmond Chaturanga has been accused of publishing, on his website, news items which would influence the process of judiciary in contravention of the provisions of the Article 111- C of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka. He is also charged with of being the Admin of the aforementioned web which published news items that resulted in danger or imminent danger to national security, the national economy or public order violating the provisions of the Section No 6 of the Computer Crimes Act No 24 of 2007.
It is clear that his questionable reporting has overlooked media ethics and he is liable to give reasons and to prove the truth and accuracy of what transpired to the public domain by the news items published under his watch.
The Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions (FMETU) is concerned of the process followed by the law enforcing authorities in the manner of making the arrest, questioning the journalist and finally incarcerating him in the remand prison. It is obvious to any discerning eye that the process alone instills fear and terror among journalists and we believe that process is an intimidation against media freedom in the country.
We of the FMETU, a member organization of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), state that we would not hesitate to take action against any move against media freedom and the rights of journalists to analyze the decisions of the judiciary and to report corruption and fraud taking place in that branch of governance.