By Jamila Najmuddin
Contrary to claims made by some international and local media rights groups, the government insists there is no threat to the media in Sri Lanka especially after the just concluded Presidential Elections.
Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, speaking to Daily Mirror online, said that if any journalists was being harassed or threatened, they could report it directly to him in order to conduct investigations.
“So far I have not received any complaints. No media group has contacted me to complain, especially after the elections. I saw a statement by Human Rights Watch but they should contact me directly,” Minister Yapa said.
When questioned if the government was conducting investigations into the whereabouts of journalist Prageeth Ekneliyagoda who has been missing since January 24, the Minister said that the government was ‘watching the situation’.
In a recent letter sent by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to President Mahinda Rajapakse, the media rights group urged the President to halt all arrests and intimidation of journalists working for privately owned and foreign media.
“This wave of post-election violence could cast a lasting stain on the start of President Rajapaksa’s second term and bodes ill for the political climate during the coming years,” RSF wrote.
It further stated that RSF also reminds the President of the statements in support of press freedom that he had made on many occasions, including a meeting with a Reporters Without Borders representative in October 2008.
“It is quite normal for journalists and privately-owned media to side with a candidate before and during a democratic election but it is unacceptable for them to the victims of reprisals once the elections are over,” the press freedom organisation added.