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IFJ concerned at police inaction as kidnap threat repeated against FMM employee

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 22 April 2008 IFJ media release:

Police Urged to Investigate Threats to FMM Treasurer

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that police in Sri Lanka have not investigated threats made against K. Rushangan, treasurer of the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate.

According to FMM, Rushangan was first threatened on April 13 by a caller identifying himself as "Ealaventhan" and claiming to be from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The caller demanded that Rushangan hand over a motorbike or the equivalent of US$1500 by April 16, or he would be abducted.

Despite lodging a complaint with Dehiwala police on April 16, no investigative action has been taken by local authorities, reports FMM. Dehiwala police reportedly told Rushangan that they were unable to investigate the case without a court order to obtain the caller's details from a mobile phone company.

FMM reports that the caller repeated his demand to Rushangan on April 21, extending the deadline until April 25.

The police failure to take action over the threats is an example of a worrying lack of commitment to the protection of media personnel in Sri Lanka.

"For the operation of a free and transparent media in Sri Lanka, incidents such as this must not be allowed to continue," said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

"It is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies to act decisively against such threats."

The IFJ joins FMM in calling for police to take action for the protection of Rushangan to demonstrate their commitment to creating a safe environment for journalists and for press freedom for all Sri Lanka.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

Updates the Rushangan case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92799

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