Ny, April 4, 2022 – The federal authorities of Sri Lanka ought to respect press freedom, guarantee unrestricted entry to social media and communication platforms, And permit the media to work freely and independently all by way of a nationbroad state of emergency, the Committee To shield Journalists said Monday.

On Friday, April 1, the Sri Lankan authorities declared the emergency, which permits authorities to conduct warrantless arrests, and imposed a curfew to include protests after violent demonstrations over the nation’s financial disaster erupted final week, Based mostly on information reviews.

On the night of March 31, Sri Lankan police and safety forces arrested A minimal of six journalists cowling a protest outdoors President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private residence Inside the Mirihana district of the capital Colombo, Based mostly on a report by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), An space press freedom group; A press launch by the Federation of Media Staff Commerce Union (FMETU), An space internetwork of trade unions for journalists and media employees; information reviews; and a JDS repredespatchedative, who spoke to CPJ on the situation of anonymity As a Outcome of of fear Of presidency reprisal.

Police arrested over 50 people On the protest, used tear gasoline and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, and filed a grievance in the direction of over 50 people, collectively with the six journalists. In accordance to the JDS repredespatchedative, the six have been accused of violating Part 120 of the penal code, which makes it an offense to “excite feelings of disaffection” in the direction of the president or authorities. If convicted, the journalists might Resist two years in jail.

“Sri Lanka should not use the state of emergency as a pretext to muzzle press freedom all by way of this esdespatchedial second Inside the nation’s historic previous, when entry to information Is esdespatchedial for all residents,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Authorities should cease detaining and harassing journalists, permit the media to report safely and independently, and guarantee unrestricted entry to social media and communication platforms.”

The Gangodawila Magistrates’ Courtroom Inside the Nugegoda municipality, a suburb of Colombo, granted bail for the six journalists on April 1, Based mostly on the JDS repredespatchedative.

On Sunday, April 3, authorities restricted entry to Pretty A pair of social media and communication platforms, collectively with Fb, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, and YouTube, which was largely restored after 16 hours, Based mostly on NetBlocks, a watchdog group that screens internet censorship.

CPJ was unable To proper away decide contact particulars for the six journalists And guarantee their exact job titles As a Outcome of of nation-broad power shortages Launched on by The continued financial turmoil. CPJ Is fixed To evaluation the circumstances surrounding the arrests and detention of the six journalists.

The subsequent six journalists have been detained the placeas cowling the protest, Based mostly on the FMETU and JDS:

  1. Chatura Deshan, who was reporting for the privately owned Sinhala-language tv internetwork Sirasa Teleimaginative and prescient.
  2. Sumedha Sanjeewa Gallage, who was reporting for the privately owned Sinhala-language tv internetwork Derana Teleimaginative and prescient, was seen being escorted Right into a police car in a Fb Stay video taken by a bystander circulated on social media on April 1. Gallage informed Sri Lanka’s  Sunday Occasions that he was assaulted by officers with the Particular Process Strain, an elite paramilitary unit of the Sri Lankan police, On the protest after repeatedly decideing himself as a journalist and displaying his media identification card. He appeared to have sustained vital bruising to his face and his shirt Appeared to be coated in blood in A photograph circulated on social media. Gallage said he was assaulted by one other unidentified particular person earlier than he was taken to the Mirihana police station and acquired medical remedy at a hospital after he was launched on bail, Based mostly on The Sunday Occasions. Gallage says he misplaced partial imaginative and prescient in his proper eye Due to assault and Would require further medical remedy.
  3. Awanka Kumara, who was reporting for Sirasa Teleimaginative and prescient. Kumara’s video digital camera was smashed all by way of a police baton cost, Based mostly on JDS. “I by no means thought that journalists Can be assaulted in such A style because they know us. We now have been reporting on these occasions For A very Very prolonged time,” Kumara informed LankaFiles.
  4. Waruna Wanniarachchi, who was reporting for the privately owned Sinhala-language Daily informationpaper Lankādeepa.
  5. Nishshanka Werapitiya, who was reporting for Derana Teleimaginative and prescient, appeared to have sustained bruising to his face in A photograph shared by JDS on Twitter.
  6. Pradeep Wickramasinghe, who was reporting for Derana Teleimaginative and prescient, appeared to have sustained a quantity of bruises to his proper arm in A photograph shared by JDS on Twitter.

CPJ is investigating reviews that Nisal Baduge, who was reporting for the privately owned English-language Daily informationpaper Daily Mirror, and Lahiru Chamara, who was reporting for Derana Teleimaginative and prescient, have been furtherly assaulted the placeas cowling the March 31 protest.

On Sunday, April 3, 2022, the Tamil Nationbroad People’s Entrance, a political alliance repredespatcheding the ethnic Tamil minority, reported that police ceaseped journalists from Getting into its office Inside the Kokkuvil suburb of the northern metropolis of Jaffna, the place they arrived to cowl its media convention, harassed them, and turned them away after registering their names. CPJ was unable To proper away affirm the identities of these journalists.

CPJ May even be investigating reviews that A gaggle Of people who introduced themselves as members of the president’s media diimaginative and prescient threatened and intimidated Tharindu Jayawardena, editor-in-chief of the privately owned information internet website medialk.com. Jayawardena lodged a grievance On the Mirihana police station in response to the incident, Based mostly on the FMETU.

In July 2021, a collective of media groups wrote a letter to Chandana Wickramaratne, inspector-broadspread of the Sri Lankan Police, after Deshabandu Tennakoon, senior deputy inspector-broadspread of the western province of Sri Lanka, threatened Jayawardena for “publishing fabricated information gadgets” after the journalist shared a medialk.com article on Fb, which reported that Tennakoon had acquired a wage enhance following the 2019 Easter bombings.

Sri Lanka police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa Did not Reply to CPJ’s request for remark despatched by way of messaging app. The office of President Rajapaksa Did not Reply to CPJ’s emailed request for remark.

Source: https://cpj.org/2022/04/cpj-calls-on-sri-lankan-government-to-respect-press-freedom-amid-nationwide-state-of-emergency/