Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today said that it shares the concerns of Sri Lanka’s journalists about the searches, interrogations and acts of intimidation to which they have been subjected to since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as president just two weeks ago.
The authorities must put a stop to all forms of intimidation, RSF said.
It took little more than a week after his installation on 18 November for Rajapaksa, also known as the “Terminator,” to start having an impact of press freedom in Sri Lanka. The initial targets included Newshub.lk, a Colombo-based news website that police raided on 26 November, searching the contents of its servers, desktops and laptops.
The warrant produced by the police had expired on 12 December 2018, nearly a year ago, but the police brushed that aside, blaming a typing error, and continued to use the searchword “Gota” on all of the website’s computers to find and examine references to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
“This full-blown police raid on an independent news portal, compounded by a crude breach of criminal procedure, sends a very disturbing signal about respect for press freedom under Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“We urge the new Government to issue clear directives to the police to let journalists do their work without subjecting them to intimidation.”