8/29/2009

Sri Lanka specially mentioned in press release issued by Reporters Without Borders to mark the 26th International Day of the Disappeared

 (August 29, 2009 - Lanka Polity) In a press release issued to mark the 26th International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August, Reporters Without Borders has provided a grim reminder that nothing has been heard, sometimes for years, of scores of journalists, who have been kidnapped, arrested or simply kept “appointments” that turned out to be traps in many countries including Sri Lanka.


Mexico, where eight journalists have disappeared since the year 2000, has been identified as the country most affected by this plague while Sri Lanka is mentioned next to that country.


Press release says "In January 2009, The International Press Freedom Mission to Sri Lanka condemned the “culture of impunity and indifference” surrounding the disappearances of journalists in the country. Soldiers arrested Subramaniam Ramachandran, correspondent for Tamil dailies Thinakural and Valampuri, close to a military camp, Kalikai Junction, in the north of Jaffna, in the north of the country on 15 February 2007. His family has heard nothing of him since then. He had been reporting on the illegal trade in sand, implicating a businessman and members of the military. The Jaffna office of the Human Rights Commission handled the case and it was referred to the military authorities, including the commander in chief for the Jaffna region. But as lawyer Mudiyapu Remedias explained, in this type of case “everyone is afraid of challenging the army, which denied any involvement”.


"Vadivel Nimalarajah, a sub-editor on the popular Tamil daily in Jaffna, Uthayan, which is highly critical of the government, has not been heard of since 17 November 2007 when, colleagues believe, he was abducted while cycling home after working overnight at the paper."


“Whether carried out by agents of the state or local criminals bent on settling scores, the many disappearances of journalists highlights the fact that the enemies of press freedom have no hesitation in using the most cowardly and despicable methods to gag journalists. We restate our support for the families of the disappeared and we share the pain they suffer in the waiting and uncertainty about their fate”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.


“We urge the relevant authorities to systematically take these disappearances seriously and to open the badly-needed investigations to find these missing journalists and punish those responsible. It is moreover incredible that cases of ‘enforced disappearance’ implicating agents of the state or those acting with its support can still be going on around the world. We urge countries that have signed the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance to ratify the law as quickly as possible so that it can be put into force”, it added.

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