RSF urges Norway to press for journalists' safety in Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 July 2004, 11:07 GMT]
Reporters Without Borders Thursday urged Norway to press Sri Lankan authorities to fight impunity with which journalists are attacked in the island, particularly on its east coast. ''Since the killing of a correspondent in Batticaloa region at the end of May, without any condemnation from a single minister, two other journalists have been forced to flee the area and take refuge in the capital'', RSF said.

Reporters Without Borders urged Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen - visiting Colombo on 25-30 July to relaunch the peace process - to promote press freedom in his meetings with the government, the Tamil Tigers and opposition figures.

The organisation's 28 July appeal comes two days after two armed men, suspected of being LTTE members, shot journalist Sadacharalingam Kamaladas wounding him seriously in both legs at his home in Ariyampathi, Batticaloa district in the east of the country.

The 25-year old, of the Tamil-language weekly Thinamurusu, was being treated in hospital in Batticaloa.

''We are extremely concerned at the rapid deterioration in security for Sri Lankan journalists in the east of the country,'' RSF wrote to Mr Helgesen.

These attacks were attributed to a group that split away from the LTTE. The safety situation in the East of Sri Lanka has deteriorated in the past few months after a dissident group led by V Muraleetharan alias Karuna broke away from the Tamil Tigers and is allegedly being supported by sections of the Sri Lankan Military.

''Since this latest attack there is hardly a journalist left to work in this region, such is the climate of threat from all sides,'' said the RSF. ''The lack of any real investigation or trials in the murders of journalists over the last four years has allowed complete impunity, which must now be brought to an end.''

''The Sri Lankan government should act urgently, under the guidance of the Norwegian authorities, so that reporters threatened by both LTTE forces and the government security forces, can do their job of informing the public without risking their lives,'' it concluded.

The weekly Thinamurusu, close to the pro -government Tamil party the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) is regularly harassed by its rival the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), RSF said.

 

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