Media groups call for action against Mervyn

Questions over law enforcement as minister openly boasts of forcing journalist to flee

Media organisations are making legal consultations regarding the recent statement made by Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva, where he admitted forcing journalist and media rights activist Poddala Jayantha to flee the country two years ago.

Free Media Movement Convener Sunil Jayasekera told the Sunday Times that a meeting regarding this was held this week with seven media organizations participating and a final decision is to be taken next week.

“We have always shown our opposition by organising protest marches or holding placards, but they are often ignored. Therefore, we will seek legal action on these threats to media personnel,” said Mr. Jayasekera.

During a protest held in Kiribathgoda against the US-led resolution against Sri Lanka, Minister Silva said that it was he, who ‘chased’ Poddala from the country. He also branded Poddala as a ‘traitor’.
“If you get caught to me in Sri Lanka, I will break your limbs in public” the Cabinet Minister stated in public.

Media organisations that will take collective legal action are the Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Tamil Media Alliance, Muslim Media Forum, Journalists for Democracy, Federation for Media Employees Trade Union and South Asia Free Media Association.

“We believed the Government would take disciplinary action against such ministers, and instruct the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to question him regarding the assault. It is unfortunate that a minister who is taking responsibility is still not questioned by law enforcement officials,” he said.

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association Acting President Gnanasiri Koththigoda said this is a serious confession involving an unsolved crime, and that, he should be questioned regarding this statement. “By now, the CID should have taken a court order to question Minister Silva. But no such action has been taken yet. This is a threatening situation, where any minister or member of the Government can assault or even kill a journalist, and openly admit it in public. This is definitely a threat to media freedom in the country,” he said.

Forty journalists and media workers have been killed, one missing and five media institutions damaged to date, since 2006.

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