A delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent non-profit organisation based in New York that promotes press freedom, met Sri Lanka Ambassador to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, on Thursday.The CPJ has called for a comprehensive and transparent investigation into a series of recent attacks against the Sri Lanka media.
According to a CPJ statement, Ambassador Wickramasuriya had cited the independence of the Sri Lankan judiciary and said he was unable to offer any assurances on the scope of such an investigation.
“The government of Sri Lanka is perturbed by threats against media workers and especially repulsed by the alleged attacks on media workers,” the ambassador had told the CPJ delegation.
The ambassador was quoted as saying that the government in no way condoned any such attacks, and that “the attacks on journalists may have been perpetrated by ‘terrorists’ seeking to embarrass the government”.
The statement quoted CPJ executive director Joel Simon as saying: “While we appreciate the opportunity to convey our concerns directly to the ambassador and his staff, we hoped to emerge from the meeting with assurances of a robust and vigorous investigation into these appalling crimes. We were disappointed not to receive any such assurance.
Quoting CPJ Asia programme co-ordinator Bob Dietz, the statement said: “There has been impunity for those who attack journalists in Sri Lanka, and there have been attempts to intimidate and silence critics of the government. Journalists who are critical should not be targeted as part of the government’s military objective.”