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Diplomatic corps must act to free ailing journalist Bennet Rupasinghe

by Committee to Protect Journalists

Mar 31, 2011 The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the international diplomatic community in Colombo to help secure the release of Lanka eNews website News Editor Bennet Rupasinghe. According to colleagues in Colombo and international news reports, Rupasinghe was arrested by police after responding to a summons. He was called to give a statement about allegedly threatening a brother of a suspect who is in custody over the arson attack on the site's office on January 31.

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News Editor Bennet Rupasinghe in Police vehicle ~ pic: via LankaeNews

Rupasinghe's case was carried over to April 7, according to the reports. The court said that due to his age he may be allowed to be held in a secure hospital.

"Sri Lankan journalists are at the mercy of killers and kidnappers because the government has failed to meet its responsibility to protect them. This arrest cries out for immediate international support, and we call on diplomats in Colombo to pressure authorities to meet their obligations," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "Not only has the office of Lanka eNews come under arson attack, but its editor is in exile and its cartoonist is missing--the threat to the safety of its remaining staff is clear."

On January 24, 2010, the site's columnist and political cartoonist, Prageeth Eknelygoda, was abducted two days before presidential elections. His wife, Sandhya, and their two teenage sons have kept up a steady campaign pressuring the government to investigate the disappearance, which so far has not happened. A representative of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office has contacted the family, expressing Ban's concern, and offering them the U.N.'s support in their campaign.

Chief Editor Sandaruwan Senadheera, living in exile since early 2010 in London after repeated threats on his life, says he intends to keep the site running. The news site's offices were destroyed in an apparent arson attack in the early morning on January 31. At the time, CPJ called for the United Nations to intervene.

Lanka eNews is known for exposing governmental corruption and criticizing the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It gave its support to defeated opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka in the January 2010 presidential elections. Fonseka was arrested on February 8, 2010, court-martialed for committing "military offenses," and sentenced to three years in prison.

Attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka are seldom meaningfully investigated and never prosecuted. The country ranks fourth on CPJ's 2010 Impunity Index, which measures governments' records of bringing the killers of journalists to justice. ~ courtesy: http://www.cpj.org ~

4 Comments

The arrest and remand of Mr Rupasinghe without any proven charge just goes to show the state of Justice, Law and Good Governance in Sri Lanka. No doubt the local Police are just tools of the Govt and Allmighty Excecutive and his Siblings who brook no dissent or obstruction in their path. Question is if this is to be the fate of Democracy and the Rule of Law in this country? Is their no one to standup and question this wanton display of tyranny?

Posted by: SriLankan | March 31, 2011 09:27 PM

Bob Dietz you have no right to criticize our president.

There is a word call The Law of the Land. For Many years due to our lack of leader ship we had the so called the Law of the foreign land.

Well you fool its does not have any more. We have a Leader after 300years and he is there to stay so you can either put up or shut up and get out.

Every journalist have the right to tell the right, truth full news.

If they try to say lies and make damage to a country's reputation as the elected president with more than 2/3 majority we people of Sri Lanka has given the full power and support to our leader to eradicate not only terrorism but also international Mafia like you people.

Posted by: Nalin | April 1, 2011 08:52 PM

Just because he is a journalist, he is not above the Law of the land. These Rouge Journalists who have formed a Committee to Protect Journalists think that they can even commit murder in the name of Journalism and get out scot free just because they are called journalists.

All these so called Journalists belonging to this Committee who are up to all sorts of criminal actions to satisfy their Political masters, should be taken to task without exceptions.

Posted by: Don Sarath | April 1, 2011 10:46 PM

Recently Pillyan the Cheif minister of Eastern Privince had pointed a gun at one of the TNA members and thretened to kill him. If the so called law and order of yours is active and alive in Sri Lanka why didn't the police arrest and put him in jail?? Every journalist have the right to tell the truth. Sometime when you tell the truth some poeple get hurt but, you can't help it, that's how journalist work. If you dont like the style of his or her writing you don't go to the extend of arrest that person the keeping in jail as he had committed a criminal act or hiring some thuggs to kill such person. Is this Sri Lankan style of democraze???

Posted by: Martin Thomas | April 3, 2011 01:28 PM

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