FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

EXPEDITE POLICE INVESTIGATION INTO ACCUSED EDITOR

The editor of Lanka E News Bennet Rupasinghe was arrested by the police on March 31, 2011 and denied bail till his next court appearance on April 8, 2011. This website has been under severe attack for over a year. The arrest of the editor follows an arson attack against the office of the website that destroyed its equipment in January this year. One of its reporters, Prageeth Eknaligoda has been missing for over one year now with the police completely failing to make any progress in the matter.

The National Peace Council expresses its concern at the arrest and detention of an editor of a widely read website that has been critical of the government and supportive of the opposition. There has been a general culture of impunity with regard to attacks on the indepenedent or pro-opposition media. According to the state media, Mr Rupasinghe was arrested by the police for allegedly planning the arson attack on his website to bring the government into disrepute and for threatening the families of the suspects who carried out the arson attack on a contract basis.

The freedom of expression and of the media is a basic pillar of democracy. This great freedom can be abused, as it has been by both the privately owned and state media. The NGO sector, specifically those engaging in peace building, reconciliation and human rights have been at the receiving end of emotion-charged, vituperative and personalized attacks. However, the incarceration of media persons for political reasons cannot be condoned. As the arrest of Bennet Rupasinghe has those attributes we call on the government to expedite the police investigation and ensure that justice prevails.

Governing Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organisation that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.

Information

This entry was posted on April 3, 2011 by in news and tagged , , , , , .
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