FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

NfR urge the IGP not to oppose bail application of journalist Bennet Rupasinghe and to conduct speedy impartial investigation

Mahinda Balasuriya  Esqr.,
Inspector General of Police,
Police Headquarters,

Colombo 1,
Sri Lanka

Dear Sir,

Arrest and Detention of Mr. Bennet Rupasinghe, News Editor of Lanka-e-news

NfR, Net work of Sri Lanka journalists and human rights defenders in exile would like to bring to your urgent attention to following facts regarding the arrest and continued detention of Mr. Bennet Rupesinghe  a senior journalist and the news editor of Lanka-e-News website.

As you know Mr. Rupesinghe was taken into custody on the morning of 31st March, 2011.  Mr. Rupesinghe had been interrogated  for 3 hours,  particularly regarding phone calls made from and received by him on his mobile phone. According to our information  Mr. Rupesinghe has denied making any threatening calls to anyone, as alleged by the Police.  As a senior journalist and news editor, Mr. Rupesinghe receives and responds to numerous calls throughout the day. He has told his interrogators that he has  no specific recollection of any  suspicious call from a particular number.

Mr. Rupesinghe was refused bail  and remanded by Kaduwela Magistrate till 7th April. He will be produced in the courts tomorrow, 7th April, 2011.  Mr. Rupesinghe is 68 years old, and suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. According to the information we have, he has been prevented from receiving food from home.
Since the arson attack on the Lanka e-News office on 31st January this year, state controlled media has published numerous and contradictory reports sourced to unnamed police officers saying that the attack was an inside job. Some of those news stories are completely false. Various organisations have cast their doubts  regarding the lack of a credible investigation by the local police into that incident. In this context we would wish to remind that that a the head of the Police Service  it is your duty to ensure  that an impartial and speedy investigation

is carried out  not only on the incident of  arson but also on those misleading media reports as well.  The members of the staff of the website have  expressed fear that there could be a  plan to implicate them as being responsible for that incident.

In the circumstances NfR  wishes to urge you to  direct the  Kaduwela Police not to object to  Mr. Rupasinghe being granted bail

when he is produced before Court tomorrow and to complete the investigation into the allegations against him  as early as possible so that Mr. Rupasinghe could be released without delay.
NfR calls upon you to  ensure that  an independent, impartial and credible investigation is conducted  into the arson attack on the Lanka e-news office in January 2011 and help to win the confidence  the people  in  the  efficiency   and capability   of the Sri Lanka Police.

Yours truly,

NfR Steering committee : Kshama Ranawana ( Canada) Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France),

Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)

NFR

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