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FMM calls on government to investigate journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda's disappearance

(FMM/IFEX) - 23 July 2010 - This week the Sri Lankan media industry, media professionals, newspaper readers, news Website viewers as well as human rights organisations all mark six months since the sudden disappearance of journalist, cartoonist and writer Prageeth Ekneligoda.

We, the Alliance of Media Organisations, appeal to the authorities to renew and intensify their efforts to investigate Ekneligoda's disappearance. We cannot understand how is it that these same security agencies, that have been so efficient and successful in dealing with and resolving incidents pertaining to the war, are unable to resolve the problem of the disappearance of a single journalist.

We point out that the police authorities as well as government spokesmen for security matters stated, within days of Ekneligoda's disappearance on January 24 2010, that "special police teams" were carrying out investigations. In fact, some senior police officials even claimed that they had begun uncovering evidence about this mysterious and alarming disappearance.

However, six months have gone by without a single positive report of progress in tracing this journalist. What happened to all those special police teams?

As organisations that have long fought for and defended the rights of journalists, we note that while "terrorists" have been regularly identified and sometimes even captured very soon after the perpetration of attacks, the police and other security agencies have consistently failed to trace those journalists who have disappeared over the years. It must be seriously noted that in not a single case of the assassination or disappearance of a media professional, beginning with the abduction and killing of Inter Press Service bureau chief Richard de Zoysa two decades ago, have the law and order authorities succeeded in identifying and arresting, let alone convicting, the perpetrators. However, in other cases such as in crime and "terrorism" the suspects have always been quickly identified and arrested or eliminated.

It is not surprising, therefore, that much of the world outside Sri Lanka, including the many international movements defending human rights, doubt the country's ability to protect the human rights of its people.

We call on the government and the police authorities to inform the public about the current status of the investigation into the disappearance of Ekneligoda. If the government lacks the expertise and technical capacity to conduct the investigation successfully, it can always invite experts of international quality from abroad, perhaps from friendly neighbouring countries, to help in the task.

Alliance of Media Organisations
23rd July, 2010.

Contact Persons
Seetha Ranjanee – Secretary – FMM – 0777 312460
Laxman Gunasekara – Chair Person - SAFMA Sri Lanka – 0777 305764
A. Nixon – Vice President – TMA

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