‘Prolonged detention of Jaffna journalist worrying’ - RSF

[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 March 2001, 11:30 GMT]
In a letter to the Sri Lankan Minister of Justice, Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, Professor G. L. Peiris, Thursday, Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders RSF), the Paris based media watchdog, called for the release of Subramaniam Thiruchelvan, the correspondent for the state run Tamil daily Thinakaran in Point Pedro in Jaffna. The journalist has been detained by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) since 2 January 2001. Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF, notes in his letter that “this prolonged and excessive detention of a journalist from the Jaffna peninsula is a very worrying warning to all media professionals working there, especially since it has occurred a few months after the still unpunished crime against reporter Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan from Jaffna.”

The following is the text of the press release issued by the RSF Thursday:

‘Reporters Sans Frontières is deeply concerned about the excessive detention of a journalist for more than two months.’

“RSF considers that the violence and degrading treatment to which the journalist was subjected during the first weeks of his detention must be investigated and punished. In fact, such treatment by the security forces is in complete contradiction with the international commitments of Sri Lanka, such as the Convention against Torture, in which Article 7 states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF, reminded the minister that his "duty is to ensure that periods of detention without trial do not exceed the legal limits even if it is under the emergency regulations." Robert Ménard also noted that "this prolonged and excessive detention of a journalist from the Jaffna peninsula is a very worrying warning to all media professionals working there, especially since it has occurred a few months after the still unpunished crime against reporter Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan from Jaffna.”

“According to the information collected by RSF, Subramaniam Thiruchelvan, correspondent of the governmental press group Lakehouse Newspapers and of the Tamil newspaper Valampuri in Point Pedro, Jaffna district, has been detained since 2 January 2001 by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Colombo. Arrested after an anonymous petition, he was detained for several weeks in the TID offices in Chaityaya Road in Colombo”.

“According to his family and a human rights activist who visited him, the journalist was beaten with a pipe several times by policemen. He was also handcuffed night and day. Police stated that he confessed his links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE). But his family is adamant that he confessed under duress. Subramaniam Thiruchelvam is accused of collecting money for the LTTE”.

“The journalist has been detained for more than two months but has not yet been charged. He appeared before a judge but because the TID had not completed the investigation, the legal procedure could not start. A hearing was due to take place on 16 March but it was postponed indefinitely. According to the provisions ER18 and ER19 of the Emergency Regulations, the journalist could be detained without being charged for six months, solely for the needs of the investigation”.

 

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