Second Sri Lankan journalist murder has grave implications for journalist safety

May. 02, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned that the situation in Sri Lanka is further deteriorating as a second journalist was shot dead only 10 days after the murder of a Tamil editor.

According to an IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), Selvarajah Rajiwarman, journalist for Jaffna based newspaper Uthayan, was shot dead on April 29 by an unidentified assailant as he cycled to his office on Rashavintottam Road, 200 meters away from a military check point.

The murder of a second journalist in 10 days has grave implications for journalist safety in Sri Lanka, IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

Furthermore, Rajiwarmans death is yet another tragic example of the violence and threats that face journalists in the Jaffna region daily, Warren said.

War-torn Jaffna has been under the control of the Sri Lankan military for more than 11 years and is reportedly heavily protected by security check points at almost all intersections.

According to the FMM, Rajiwarman joined Uthayan four months ago as a reporter. He previously worked at the Nawadu Eelanadu, which had to be closed down after its managing editor, Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, was shot dead on August 21, 2006.

Six media workers have been killed in Jaffna in the past year, and all these murders remain unsolved, the FMM reports.

The ongoing violence against journalists in Jaffna and the failure of authorities to properly investigate these attacks has resulted in a culture of impunity that severely hinders free press in the region, said the president of the IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.

The Sri Lankan authorities must launch a full and independent investigation into Rajiwarmans death, and send a strong message that the government will no longer remain idle while journalists are murdered, attacked or violently silenced, Warren said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries

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