Letter sent to IGP on media intimidation 

BY Pamodi Waravita 

The Media Organisations Collective has written to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne urging him to ensure that investigating and questioning journalists is done within the confines of the law, and without inciting fear in them. 

“We urge that if journalists need to be questioned or arrested for a legal matter, to do so within the given regulations, in a transparent manner. The recent incidents involving Lanka e News Journalist Keerthi Ratnayake, web journalist Thushara Wanniarachchi, and Thamilan Newspaper Editor R. Sivaraja are causes for concern,” the letter stated. 

The Collective has called for the protection of Ratnayake, who is in Police custody at the moment, as the editorial of Lanka e News had informed them that a threat to Ratnayake’s life could arise. 

“We have been informed that Ratnayake is currently being detained for 90 days as he has allegedly given some information to the Indian Embassy of Sri Lanka. We urge that the investigations be done under the proper regulations, as his editors have informed us that the Police are currently questioning him about unrelated details – those about the news website. We would like to remind that journalists have a responsibility to not reveal their sources, and only reveal what is necessary for legal proceedings,” the letter added. 

Ratnayake, a former Air Force Intelligence officer, was reportedly arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on 14 August for making claims about a purported attack on an international institution in Colombo. Wanniarachchi had given a statement to the CID on 17 August in connection with her alleged links to Ratnayake. She had further alleged that CID officers had searched her house on 16 August. On 12 August, Sivaraja said that two officers who had claimed to be from the CID had tried to enter his apartment during the early hours of the same day. 

The letter was co-signed by the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, the Free Media Movement, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, the Tamil Media Forum, and the Sri Lanka Young Journalists Association.