FMM urges authorities and media institutions to uphold rights of journalists | Sunday Observer

FMM urges authorities and media institutions to uphold rights of journalists

Upholding the freedom of expression and the right and the duty of journalists to be the watchdog on behalf of the public; the Free Media Movement (FMM) issuing two media releases condemned attacks on two journalists, in the run up to the presidential election.

While LasanthaWijeyeratne, a freelance journalist and a writer, who published a book titled ‘Naasthikaara Sanwardhana Saha Dushanaya’ (Wasteful Development and Corruption) was reportedly attacked on Thursday, November 14 within 48 hours from the election by an unidentified group of people, K. M. Razool the Tamil News editor of the Capital FM Radio owned by Trymas Media Network Private Limited was allegedly beaten and expelled from his position, a few weeks ago.

While noting that the FMM is paying close attention to the attack on LasanthaWijeyeratne, a writer who lives in Meepe, Habaraduwa, Galle, it urged all parties concerned to expedite investigations into this incident, which has challenged the democratic space in the country, 48 hours before election, and to reveal the details of this attack.

It was reported that an armed group had entered the residence of LasanthaWijeyeratne at Habaraduwa, Galle on Thursday (14) morning and assaulted him.

Wijeyeratne who sustained injuries currently receives treatment at the Karapitiya Hospital. Wijeyeratne stated that the attackers questioned him on his 2015 publication titled ‘Naasthikaara Sanwardhana Saha Dushanaya’ (Wasteful Development and Corruption), a copy of which he had recently handed over to the New Democratic Front presidential candidate, Sajith Premadasa.

The FMM also strongly condemned the suspension of the services of K. M. Razool the Tamil News editor of the Capital FM Radio owned by Trymas Media Network Private Limited, without proper internal inquiry.

“Media owners are responsible for safeguarding the professional rights of journalists and for preserving the editorial independence,” they said.

They advocated for taking swift action to ensure justice to the journalist and request the heads of print, electronic and internet media institutions in the country to guarantee and safeguard their editorial independence.

Razool had stated that at a meeting convened by the head of the company on October 16, there was a dispute regarding the news editing and that he was assaulted and driven out of the room and was handed a letter of suspension on the following day.

Although this is the most recent incident around his suspension, he states that there are several other influencing factors in the background. According to Razool, Capital FM has requested to promote news items favouring the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna during the election period. He said that he had taken steps to report balanced news despite the request and there was also a problem with his service contract not being implemented properly.

However, the arbitrary suspension has damaged the professional security and independence of this journalist.

This incident is regarded by FMM as a powerful signal of the unpleasant situation that prevails within the media establishment in Sri Lanka and the threat to the use of ethical media with social accountability. Especially during the election period, the impact of this situation is extremely powerful, note the statement.

The FMM also believes that this resurfaces the long-term problem of the undue influence of ownership in the media industry.

Razool has already lodged a complaint with the Police and the Department of Labour.

The Free Media Movement urges those responsible for taking swift action to ensure justice to this journalist and request the heads of print, electronic and internet media institutions in the country to guarantee and safeguard their editorial independence.

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