Sri Lankan journalist faces charge over article17 Jun, 2019
On June 16, Sri Lankan journalist Kusal Perera was faced with charges for commenting on the development of religious rivalries after the April 21 Easter Sunday attack. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM) strongly crticise attempts to pursue legal action against the Sri Lankan journalist.
Perera writes a weekly column for the Daily Mirror, and in the May 17 edition titled “From Islamic terrorism to marauding Sinhala Buddhist violence” he outlined the rise of Sinhala-Buddhist extremism pursuing anti-Muslim behavior. Following its release Sri Lanka’s Organised Crime Division reported to the Colombo Magistrate Courts for actions to be taken against Perera under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act.
On Friday 14 June police officers attempted to record a statement from the editors of the Daily Mirror. However, due to a technical error, the recording was postponed to another date. The police stated they will proceed to record a statement from Perera and have already obtained his address and contact number. Under ICCPR act, bail can be prohibited.
In a statement the FMM condemned actions taken by the police against Perera and the Daily Mirror as a serious threat to freedom of expression. The FMM commented that pursuing such legal actions based on a complaint made by an individual is a dangerous precedent.
FMM urged all relevant stakeholders to intervene in averting this situation and to denounce the authorities of using the law unfairly. The FMM also called on anyone who respects human rights to come forward to defeat such actions against freedom of expression and media freedom.
The IFJ said: “We strongly criticize the actions taken by the Sri Lankan police in pursuing charges against Kusal Perera. Media freedom and freedom of speech is an integral part of democracy especially following atrocities like the Easter Sunday tragedy, and recognize it still as a major concern in the region. We express our solidarity and support for Mr. Perera and call for the investigation and charges to be dropped.