The United National Party calls upon the Government to initiate credible investigations into the recent reports of attacks and harassment against members of the media, UNP General-Secretary Palitha Range Bandara said.
In two separate incidences, members of the media have reported attacks or harassment against them by unknown individuals, he said in a statement.
Freelance journalist for the Siyarata news website, Sujeewa Gamage, was reportedly admitted to the Colombo National Hospital for five days. He was treated for injuries, which he claimed, were inflicted following an abduction and torture at the hands of unknown assailants. The police have denied his claims, stating that they were self-inflicted injuries. Gamage has since denied these claims.
Due to the conflicting reports regarding this attack, the UNP calls upon the Government to initiate an independent investigation into this matter. We urge that a representative of the BASL and a representative from the independent media be involved in these inquiries to ensure transparency. If Gamage’s claims are found to be false, then he must be prosecuted according to the law of the country. However, if his statement is correct, then the authorities must ensure a transparent investigation is carried out and those responsible found and held accountable for their actions.
Separately, freelance correspondent for the BBC Tamil Service, Ranjan Arun Prasath, has made a complaint to the police HQ regarding alleged break-ins at his homes in Ratnapura and Kandy. These break-ins occurred following his detention and questioning by authorities in Vavuniya. The UNP calls upon the authorities to announce whether investigations are ongoing into this matter and what progress they have made.
Media freedom is an inherent right of the citizens of Sri Lanka, the President and the Government have a responsibility to ensure that these freedoms are protected and fostered.