2ND LEAD (Correction)

FMM condemns prolonged detention of woman journalist

[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 January 2007, 02:34 GMT]
Questioning the Court's decision to prolong journalist Mawnasamy Parameswary's detention by a further 90 days without any charges against her, the Free Media Movement (FMM), in a press release Wednesday, condemned the continued custody as "deeply disturbing" and "an example of the flagrant violation of fundamental rights in an increasingly militaristic state." Parameswary has already been in custody for 60 days.

Full text of the press release follows:

Female journalist Mawnasamy Parameshawaree detained for another 90 days

Parameshwari
Journalist, Munusamy Parameswary
The Free Media Movement (FMM) is deeply concerned and vigorously condemns the continuous custody of Mawnasamy Parameshwaree (23), a female freelance journalist working for the weekly Sinhala Newspaper Mawbima (www.mawbima.lk), who is in police custody for 60 days without any charges against her. After producing her in Court on 23rd January , we note that Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) obtained an extension to her detention order for another 90 days.

Belonging to the Up-Country Tamil community in Sri Lanka, Parameshwarees beat was reporting issues related to Tamil community and disappearances in Colombo. So far around 50 Tamil persons have disappeared in Colombo and dozens of more killed. She is single and stayed in a rented room in Dehiwala, South of Colombo. Her parents live in more than 100 km away from Colombo in Gampola.

She was arrested on 21st November 2006 and is held, without any charges against her, at the TID office in Colombo ever since. No investigating officer has questioned her for the last few weeks, although the TID asked for more time to complete the investigations at the court yesterday.

Lawyers representing her are allowed to visit her for the first time now in detention and there are moves underway to file a fundamental rights petition to the Supreme Court asking for her immediate release and compensation.

We regrettably note that some Colombo based Sinhala newspapers published inflammatory lead stories after she was arrested stating that a large number of explosives were recovered after questioning her and another female arrested alongside her. All those stories proved completely false, implanted into the media by interested parties as a justification to keep her imprisoned indefinitely.

We note that at a time when the media in Sri Lanka is under severe pressure to conform to the edicts of those opposed to free media and the freedom of expression, the continued detention of Parameshwaree is deeply disturbing and is an example of the flagrant violation of fundamental rights in an increasingly militaristic state.

Given that no charges have been made against her and that investigations conducted to date have failed to establish any links between her and terrorist activity of any kind, we strongly urge the Government to intervene to facilitate her immediate release and ensure adequate redress.

The FMM underscores the importance of human rights and media freedom in a democracy, and appeals to the media and all other democratic stakeholders to pressure the Government to strengthen both at a time when they are in danger of disappearing altogether in Sri Lanka.


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