CJA calls on Sri Lanka govt. to ensure media freedom

The Commonwealth Journalists’ Association (CJA), yesterday condemned the killing of ‘Sunday Leader’ newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure that the media be allowed to operate freely and without fear of retribution.

The CJA in a statement said: "Mr. Wickrematunga had been a fearless journalist, working under difficult circumstances in a country wracked by conflict. He and many other journalists in Sri Lanka, have been resolutely professional in their work. His newspaper has investigated government dealings and has been described as ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘pro-Opposition.’ He has fought several defamation suits brought against him by senior politicians.

"We note that the Government of Sri Lanka has ordered an investigation into his death and urge that it also include the wider context of violence against the media in Sri Lanka which has included the Sunday Leader’s printing presses being burnt in 2007 and the privately owned Maharaja TV station attacked and its equipment extensively damaged on January 6. Amnesty International reports that at least 10 media employees have been killed in Sri Lanka since 2006. We deplore the atmosphere of intimidation that has been whipped up against the media and which has led to this violence and to Mr. Wickrematunga’s and others’ deaths.

"The Commonwealth Journalists’ Association calls on the Sri Lankan Government to catch and punish those responsible for Mr. Wickrematunga’s death. It also urges the Government to ensure that the media be allowed to operate freely and without fear of retribution as it should in a flourishing democracy and that journalists and others who work in the media be given the protection they require in order to do their jobs."

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