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Media Freedom Must be Ensured with Security
A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 080707-1
July 7, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The current unabated wave of violence against media personnel must be a serious concern to all citizens of the country. Intimidation against the media is a violation of the rights of the people to information.

The most recent attack on Namal Perera and Mahendra Ratnaweera in broad daylight on a busy road in Colombo must be condemned unreservedly by all Sri Lankans.

The long detention of Tissanayagam without a clearly stated reason remains a continuing concern to many. The country, and indeed the world, cannot understand why this Sri Lankan journalist is being treated this way. I urge the President to personally look into his detention. Investigations must be expedited. If found guilty of an offence, he must be tried under the law. If he is innocent, he must be released immediately.

The inability of the authorities so far to investigate the several acts of violence and prosecute the perpetrators cannot simply be attributed to incompetence or the absence of evidence. A very sophisticated intelligence system now prevails in the country. Consequently the process of law and order must be allowed to take its independent course so that both professional freedom and personal security are ensured for all media personnel.

Many media personnel and their families have paid a very costly and personal price and we will never know the psychological trauma and physical damage done to them. I extend the solidarity and assurance of the prayers of our Church to all those who have suffered and whose dignity has been violated in the exercise of your professional and civic responsibilities. Many remain indebted to you.

I call upon all Parliamentarians and Cabinet Ministers, irrespective of political party affiliation, to raise and debate this issue. You are obliged to do so. You cannot remain silent or justify this trend.

With peace and blessings to all.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
7th July 2008