The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the threat against a Sri Lankan journalists by a Special Task Force (STF) officer on June 17. The IFJ demanded that immediate action be taken against the police officer.
On Friday, June 17, deputy inspector general (DIG) Ranjith Perera, the head of the Police Department’s commando arm, publicly threatened to punish journalists for not giving enough media coverage to his efforts to crack down on narcotics being smuggled into the island.
His outburst was captured on reporters’ audio tapes in a news conference organized by the STF in Colombo. Perera continued by warning journalists that he knew how to control the media and would do so by punishing journalists the same way his outfit had “controlled and suppressed the underworld.” He identified several journalists by name and accused them of not giving him enough publicity and suggested that they could face dire consequences.
Later, Police Senior Superintendent Ajith Rohana apologized to the media on behalf of the Inspector General of Police and said that an inquiry against DIG Perera would be held.
FMM Convener, Seetha Rajanee, said: “DIG Perera raised serious allegations against journalists… The FMM do not wish to see the return of the dark period where journalists were killed, tortured or got abducted for doing their job. The statement made by DIG Perera does pose a great threat on the security of professional journalists. Therefore, the FMM urge the government to initiate an unbiased investigation in to the issue and take proper legal action.”
The IFJ said: “The public threat made by DIG Perera is a very concerning incident as it indicates the mentality of the security agency towards the journalists. The IFJ urge the Sri Lankan government to initiate necessary action immediately to take action against the police officer and ensure that journalists work in a safe environment without threats from state agencies.” (Colombo Gazette)