The international media rights group Reporters Without Borders has expressed concerns over the appointment of Mervyn Silva as a Deputy Media Minister and called on Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne to relieve Mervyn Silva of his ministerial post.
“In what country do you appoint an arsonist to put out fires?” Reporters Without Borders asked today after learning that Mervyn Silva, a politician notorious for insulting and physically attacking journalists, has been appointed deputy minister of media and information.
“The Sri Lankan government has again distinguished itself by assigning key posts to very controversial figures implicated in attacks on press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The ruling party’s victory in the parliamentary elections is being marred by this kind of appointment, which is casting serious doubt on its ability to carry out reconciliation and reconstruction.”
The press freedom organisation added: “We call on Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne to relieve Mervyn Silva of his ministerial post.”
Threats forced several Sri Lankan journalists to flee the country during the campaign for the 8 April parliamentary elections, RSF added. Later, a team working for the Colombo-based Daily Mirror newspaper was followed and threatened on 21 April in the central city of Kandy by a local journalist apparently acting on the orders of the police. Journalists had gone there to cover a re-poll.
A ruling party candidate threatened Wasantha Chadrapala, a correspondent for various media in the eastern district of Ampara, on 4 April because of his coverage of the election campaign. His house was attacked by unidentified assailants that evening, RSF said.