Sri Lanka : “We condemn the shameless attempt to hunt down journalists while protecting those involved in corruption” – Media Organizations Collective01 Oct, 2021
The Media Organizations Collective considers the summoning of Journalists of Lankadeepa, Divaina and The Island newspapers to the CID for an investigation, for reporting on the garlic fraud and other corrupt activities at the CWE, which was exposed by the former Executive Director of Consumer Affairs Authority Thushan Gunawardena, who resigned from his post, as a shameless attempt to protect the corrupt and prevent the corruption being exposed.
Instead of investigating the revealed corruption, the police, acting on the directive of Minister Bandula Gunawardena, summoned the journalists for an inquiry into the apparent alleged insult faced by the minister in an environment where the Criminal Defamation Act was repealed in 2002. Therefore, the Media Organizations Collective reiterate that there is a growing tendency to intimidate journalists by using the police to fulfil the interests of politicians, even in the absence of any legal basis or mandate.
A group of officials has arrived at the Lankadeepa office despite the Prime Minister instructing them not to summon journalists to the CID for investigations into the incident. This took place on September 28, and the day is celebrated worldwide as the International Day for Universal Access to Information. The Lankadeepa editor had refused to provide information to the CID. Still, it was a severe offence to direct the police to hunt down journalists for political agendas and interests when exposed to fraud and corruption.
The Media Organizations Collective is not satisfied with a simple apology extended regarding the incident by the Minister of Mass Media and Information. Media is a guardian and a pillar of a democratic society and functions as the fourth government responsible for exposing fraud and corruption. In such a backdrop, The Media Organizations Collective is of the firm view that attempts to intimidate and hunt down journalists without conducting investigations and enforcing the law when media exposes such practises and incidents could go beyond the violation of freedom of expression into impunity and protecting the corrupt leading to a colossal ignorance of corruption and fraud.
Therefore, we the Media Organizations Collective, strongly condemn such shameless acts of political expediency and pledge to stand in solidarity for the rights of aggrieved journalists collectively and protect the citizen’s right to know the information and truth regarding fraud and corruption.
Media Organizations Collective
Federation of Media Employers Trade Union
Free Media Movement
Duminda Sampath ,
Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association
Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum
Tamil Media Alliance
Indunil Usgoda Arachchi,
Sri Lanka Young Journalists’ Association